Dodge Sets the Record Straight
What’s Up with Evernham and Petty?
By John Carollo
It’s no secret that the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase took off without any Dodge Chargers in the Top Twelve. So if we all can put that behind us, it’s actually a good time to start rebuilding for next year. But Detroit’s marketplace, the economy and recent mergers and acquisitions in NASCAR makes for some shaky ground. Mike Delahanty, Senior Manager of Dodge Motorsports, and Robbie Loomis, Executive VP of Racing Operations at Petty Enterprises, got together recently to answer some hot topic questions.
The first question addressed the Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) rumors of possibly buying the Toyota team of Bill Davis. So where is GEM, and Dodge for that mater, heading these days? Mike Delahanty answered that with, “I just want to respond to these recent reports regarding Gillett Evernham Motorsports - specifically regarding Bill Davis Racing and speculation that GEM would leave Dodge. It's nothing but pure speculation. Dodge and Gillett Evernham have a long history that dates to our return to Sprint Cup racing. Dodge and GEM have a long-term contract in place. We plan to continue as partners in NASCAR. We're aware and have had discussion about GEM's interest in adding a fourth car, but there's never been discussion about running anything but a Dodge. Anything beyond that, we classify as pure speculation. We're pleased to see the turnabout in the competition side at GEM and absolutely look forward to many more Victory Lane celebrations together."
When Delahanty was asked about Dodge’s commitment to motorsports, he said, “I don't know how many times we have to keep saying it, but we are committed…we have long-term contracts in place, not only with Gillett Evernham, but with Penske Racing, with Petty and with Chip Ganassi Racing. We're committed to the sport. We're committed to these guys. I don't know how many times we have to repeat it.”
Robbie Loomis was asked about the recent successes of Petty Enterprises. He said, “Jeff Meendering (#43 crew chief) and Bobby Labonte have been doing a great job. Everyone on the 43 car and at Petty Enterprises have been testing a lot. With the start of this season, we were behind the eight ball because we didn't spend the money doing the necessary stuff to come out of the box like we needed to at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, our drivers - Bobby and Kyle - had to pay the price when we hadn't done that. The last few weeks, we've kind of settled down a bit on our front-end stuff. We had a great practice in Richmond. We felt the race was fair. When we went to Loudon, we felt like we had the best weekend for all of our practices. We were in the top-five in all the practices and really good in the rankings in the average of lap times. We felt good about the progress that we made. Thirteenth (place finish) isn't what we want. We're not going to quit until we find Victory Lane.”
: WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE IN PLACE FOR THE SECOND PETTY CAR FOR NEXT YEAR?
Robbie Loomis: “There's no secret that we've been working our way through it since we took on our new partners with Boston Ventures and David Zucker - the new CEO. We're still navigating our way through our direction. It's obvious that we want to bring in a young guy with Bobby Labonte's experience and try to build from there. We're excited about this past weekend. We're working a lot with Chad McCumbee and will probably take some looks at Chad this season for sure in another five races. We're excited about where we're going in the future with that - also excited about having the experience of Bobby Labonte on our side.”