Petty, Labonte - Dodge COT interview

The Car of Tomorrow continues to be a new challenge for NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers, crew chiefs and team members. Bobby Labonte, driver ...

The Car of Tomorrow continues to be a new challenge for NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers, crew chiefs and team members. Bobby Labonte, driver #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge and Kyle Petty, driver #45 Wells Fargo/Marathon/Tire Kingdom Dodge discuss the Car of Tomorrow and the process of learning the car.

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Bobby Labonte, Driver #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge:

"Innovation is going to come in time. There will be more and different things to do to the car at some point in time. Right now, I think we are trying things, but carefully. We only have a certain amount of skill and time with it. As time goes, I think we can fine tune on some things. If we find something that is working we can go further with it.

"There is more to be gained, but our team hasn't had the car on the track enough yet. There is more that we can do, when we get more time with it. It's possible that NASCAR will give us leniency on some things too. I think the chassis might be a possibility to open up that won't cost the teams a bunch of money, but give us more things to do on the car.

"I think there is more risk over reward in trying some things right now. Our situation, I think we want to go and test more. We want to do that rather than doing things at the track. We tried some things at Darlington earlier this year and that bit us a little bit. We were better at Richmond, better at Phoenix and had a good car at Sonoma. We know what we need to work on right now, but we don't know everything.

"I don't think we'll see more testing than ever to get ready for 2008, but it's going to be more. Obviously Hendrick Motorsports is testing every other week or so with the new car. We can't 'not' think of next year because we have to be prepared. They have already told us that the rules will be this car. We can't waste too much time before it's time to test these cars more. You can't roll into January and have only tested the car twice. We have to be smart and do the right things."

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Kyle Petty, Driver #45 Wells Fargo/Marathon/Tire Kingdom Dodge:

"It's harder to be creative because you have less area to work in. If you said, 'I'm going to paint a picture on a four-by-four canvas,' that's 'OK', but what NASCAR has done is given you a four-by-four inch canvas to paint your picture on. They haven't thrown in the brushes and paint, but they have made the area smaller to work within. The point is, the smaller the box the gains aren't as big. The risks are a lot more, and we've seen that, but we need to still be innovative. You have to think way, way, way outside the box. We just aren't used to that.

"It will come eventually. It always does. Every time there is a new rule change it comes. This is what the Car of Tomorrow is doing with the teams. We've only run the car five or six races. There will be advantages gained, eventually, but initially we have to understand the inspection process. We have to understand the car too. We only have raced it on smaller tracks and road courses. We haven't seen it on bigger tracks going 180 or 190 miles per hour. It's going to be different at Atlanta, Texas, Charlotte and tracks like that. That's when we'll see different changes.

"There is no risk if you are leading the points to try something new. If you are 35th in points, yes, that's a huge risk. If you are docked 100 points and that might put you out of the top 35 in points. That is going to be a little different.

"By the time you get to February or March of next season everyone will have an idea of what they have with this car. I think guys have an idea right now of what they have. Theoretically, next season, you should be able to take the car you had at Martinsville and race it at Atlanta. You know what the downforce numbers are. The car at Bristol will be like the car at Texas. The chassis is where the difference is going to be in this new car."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Kyle Petty
Teams Hendrick Motorsports