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Publication: NASCAR News
Waltrip Racing names technical director

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007
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Michael Waltrip Racing names technical director
Warren joins multi-car team from Evernham Motorsports
By Team Release

CORNELIUS, N.C. - Michael Waltrip Racing on Tuesday named 
Dr. Eric Warren as Technical Director for the multi-car 
Nextel Cup Series operation. Warren joins MWR with a 
decade of engineering experience in the motorsports 
industry. 

"Eric brings a level of expertise that will help Michael 
Waltrip Racing become a major force in the near future," 
team owner Michael Waltrip said. "He joins us following 
a successful five-year period at Evernham Motorsports. 

"Under Eric's leadership, they won 13 Cup races, with six 
of those occurring last season alone. He could have united 
with any team, but he chose us and we are fortunate and 
proud to have him here today." 

A native of Mt. Airy, N.C., Warren was glad to accept MWR's 
offer for numerous reasons. 

"I've known Michael for a long time," said Warren, who has 
a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State 
University. "He's given me the opportunity to come to his 
team where I feel like I can help make a difference. 

"I felt like it's hard to do that at established teams 
that are already winning. Because of my relationship with 
Michael and Toyota, I want to be here to contribute to the 
organization and build on their strengths to run better." 

As Technical Director, Warren will have various 
responsibilities. 

"I will oversee all the engineering, test teams as well as 
all the fabrication of the cars," Warren said. "It's a 
building process, which is something I went through at 
Evernham. We started building and growing and we eventually 
we won races." 

Warren sees potential in MWR and he looks forward to the 
future. 

"David [Reutimann] is running well and there is proof of 
performance capability," Warren said. "By providing leader-
ship and getting process and structure in place, our goal 
will be to make all the races. Then we go after top-20s, 
top-10s and gradually that builds into a championship team 
over time. 

"There is so much potential here. This is a good place to 
work and we want to continue to create an environment where 
people want to come here." 

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Economic reality forces Pettys to explore change
Team negotiating possible alliance with Gillett-Evernham
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM

LOUDON, N.H. - Long before the current wave of mergers and 
partnerships began in NASCAR, Richard Petty could have 
filled his famous ostrich-feather hat with offers from 
people interested in buying a piece of the most successful 
stock-car organization in history. He turned them all down, 
not wanting outside investors to crowd his company's famous 
name. Petty Enterprises would remain Petty Enterprises, 
now, then and always. 

That mindset still permeates this team, where some 
employees turned wrenches back when the King still drove, 
and the initials of patriarch Lee Petty can be seen scrawl-
ed in concrete at the organization's ancestral shop in 
central North Carolina. They've always done it their way, 
the same way that won 268 races between 1949 and their last 
victory in 1999, even though other teams began to expand 
and improve and leave this historic outfit behind. 

But the hard realities of competing in NASCAR's premier 
series, many of them financial, have forced the decades-old 
Petty organization to change. The first came in 2002, when 
Petty Enterprises began to outsource its engines for the 
first time. In January, team officials said they were 
exploring the idea of leaving their old compound in Level 
Cross, N.C., for a new facility in Charlotte, where the 
bulk of the industry is based. Now, Petty is talking with 
executives at Gillett-Evernham Motorsports about forming 
some sort of alliance. 

But don't call the prospective deal a merger. Whatever 
happens, team president Robbie Loomis said, Petty 
Enterprises will not change its name -- that's one thing 
Richard Petty will not give up. 

"We've got to get our performance up. Bringing in Bobby 
Labonte was a big pillar of that organization. The No. 43 
car is now a pretty respected car on the racetrack., but 
as we go forward, it takes money," Loomis said at New 
Hampshire International Speedway, where Petty cars finished 
22nd and 37th in Sunday's Sylvania 300. 

continued below... 

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"How do you get more money in the organization? How do you 
get the sponsors to step up and pay more? It's one of those 
Catch-22s, you have to do more before they pay more, unless 
you make the big story. [Rick] Hendrick, he did a great job 
this year with the big story. Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming on, 
that's generated more money in their whole camp. The Gibbs 
organization, they've taken and sold their long-term 
relationship with Chevrolet to Toyota. It's about money. 
They can say it's resources, they can say they want to 
lead. But it's about getting the most money into an 
organization that you can. For us at Petty Enterprises, 
that's what we're trying to look at. How do we raise that 
capital?" 

Possibly by aligning with another entity like GEM and deep-
pocketed George Gillett, who owns the Montreal Canadiens 
hockey team, part of the Liverpool soccer club, and bought 
into Ray Evernham's NASCAR team earlier this year. Loomis 
said any deal with GEM is likely to be some sort of working 
arrangement similar to the one struck last week between 
Roush Fenway Racing and Yates Racing, which will share 
resources and information but remain separate entities in 
ownership.  

"Petty Enterprises will always be here," Loomis said. "We 
hope to grow it to a four-car team in the future. But I 
think with what you've seen here with Yates and Roush here 
in the last week, I say one of the best things Roush ever 
did was when he got together with Doug [Yates] and started 
getting his engines. It really helped that organization, 
probably more than any single thing Jack did besides 
getting Mark Martin. I think now you'll see some return 
come back to Doug and his organization through chassis, 
through engineering and all those things. I think there 
are a lot of things that can go both ways throughout the 
organization. But obviously, business philosophies have 
to be in line going forward." 

Gillett has been courting the Pettys since March, when he 
invited Richard up to Montreal for a hockey game. It was 
part of a feeling-out process in which Gillett, long 
interested in entering NASCAR, informally talked with both 
Petty and Evernham Motorsports about becoming an investor. 
Richard Petty came away from the experience impressed, and 
didn't rule out some sort of partnership if the dollar 
figures were right. 

"That was obviously George's way of courting Richard and 
showing him a good time, feeding him on the airplane and 
wining and dining him," Loomis said. "What I like about 
Mr. Gillett is -- and I want to say this very carefully -- 
he reminds me a lot of Mr. Hendrick. Hopefully, he's going 
to have that same commitment. He has a lot to learn about 
this sport, but he's been involved with other sports and 
been successful. I like the fit of somebody who obviously 
has deep pockets and a good foundation, but who also has 
a passion for winning and understands performance is first 
and everything else will take care of itself." 

But Gillett isn't the only player in the game. There are 
"three or four people," Loomis said, who are interested 
in partnering with the Pettys, and indications are that 
not all of them come from within NASCAR. One doesn't appear 
to be Roger Penske, who owns a two-car Dodge operation, and 
seems content to leave it that way. 

continued below... 

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"I've got plenty to do on my own right now," Penske said 
prior to the New Hampshire race. "... At this particular 
time, I'm very comfortable with the way it is, and we'll 
have to deal with it whether it's two against four, or 
three against four, or two against eight." 

For the Pettys, it's all about raising capital. The team 
would love to expand to the NASCAR-allowed maximum of four 
Nextel Cup cars, if the sponsorship can be found. Right 
now, a more pressing priority is finding funding for a 
prospective Busch car -- the Pettys, long opposed to 
alcohol sponsorship, are looking to race the circuit next 
year, when a new title sponsor comes on board -- for Chad 
McCumbee. And then there's the search for a new building, 
preferably on 40 to 50 acres north of Charlotte. 

But the partnership talks, which could provide the Pettys 
with more money for a new facility, will come first. It's 
a delicate issue for a team that has interests away from 
the racetrack like the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the 
Richard Petty Driving Experience. But the performance on 
the racetrack could clearly use a financial boost, an 
economic reality that has piqued the organization's 
interest in forming some sort of alliance. 

"I think in the past, it's been one of those situations 
where even before I left and went to Hendrick, there were 
people who approached us," said Loomis, who worked at Petty 
before becoming Jeff Gordon's crew chief at Hendrick Motor-
sports. "But at the time, we were closer in market share. 
If we had $6 million, they were racing on $9 million. We 
were a lot closer. Now, the numbers are just crazy, what 
they race on and what we race on. And I think we're trying 
to figure a way to get more money into it, so we can take 
care of the good people that we have, and attract the new 
people that we want." 

That gap, Loomis said, is still widening. And as a result, 
Petty Enterprises seems on the brink of teaming up with 
another organization for the first time. 

"I look at it like rehab: For every year you fall behind, 
it takes you three years to catch back up," Loomis said. 
"Because those guys aren't sitting still." 

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