Car number: 43 • Manufacturer: Dodge • Sponsor: Betty Crocker
Owner: Richard Petty
• Team: Petty Enterprises
• Crew Chief: Paul Andrews
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin We stated in last year's annual that this team would be fun to watch, when in actuality, it was fun to root for.
VP of Race Operations Robbie Loomis is getting the job done at Petty Enterprises. Under his guidance, the organization as a whole is seeing improvement.
Labonte and crew had their moments in 2005 and should have them once again in '06. Paul Andrews stepped in and replaced crew chief Todd Parrott, who went back to Robert Yates Racing, after the Brickyard event. Once the team got rolling with the new pit boss it put some solid runs on the pilon, averaging a 15th-place finish over the season's final nine races.
This late-season surge hints at good things to come. A driver and crew chief who are on the same page can overcome other deficiencies, such as subpar equipment. And while the improvement was encouraging, this team is still one year away from being a week-in, week-out contender.
Petty Enterprises uses Evernham engines, leading one to think the reliability would be good. However, Labonte and teammate Kyle Petty had a total of five let go throughout the year, the most costly being the Atlanta race when Labonte was sprinting away from the field.
Labonte will be driven to prove critics of his move to Petty wrong again this year. He is a driver who still has the ability to win and win often. The equipment needs to catch up with the driver before that can happen. For that reason, it may be a stretch to predict a win just yet.
In the meantime, expect to see the 43 lead laps this season and break through for five to seven top 5 runs. And you never know - if the cards fall just right at a track like Martinsville or Bristol, the team could capitalize.
2006 Recap Bobby Labonte made a huge career decision to leave the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, where he and teammate Tony Stewart had both enjoyed championship seasons, to join Petty Enterprises.
The Pettys made big promises and delivered, signing on Robbie Loomis and Todd Parrott to engineer a return to glory for the No. 43 machine.
Although the season got off to a rocky start with three consecutive 30th-or-worse runs, Labonte had his most promising day of the season at Atlanta in Week Four.
Starting fourth, he took the lead and drove away from the field. As luck would have it, the motor expired on lap 56, ruining a promising day.
The team advanced their points position from a low of 38th (after the Atlanta race) to 19th going to Homestead. However, a wreck not of Labonte's doing relegated him to 41st and dropped the 43 Dodge to 21st in the standings.
• The Good: The fall Martinsville event was the best run this team enjoyed all season. Bobby Labonte led 43 laps on the afternoon and finished third.
• The Bad: Labonte started fourth and led 13 laps at Atlanta in the spring before the engine let go. He appeared to be the class of the field before the setback occurred.
• The Ugly: Although not his fault, the crash with Kurt Busch at Homestead dropped Labonte from 19th in the point standings to 21st in the last race of the year. He finished 41st after the incident.