There are some drivers in NASCAR that, when their name is mentioned, immediately generate a strong reaction, either positively or negatively. If you are at the mall and have on a red No. 8 Dale Jr. jacket, you are likely to get smiles from the passers-by, and 'Jr.'s gonna do it this year' kinds of comments. If you have a No. 6 Mark Martin decal on your vehicle, you are likely to hear many beeps of the horn, and see thumbs in the up position. And if you have a No. 2 t-shirt on with no driver designated, I would imagine you could receive a wide spectrum of reactions, all expressed with great sincerity.

My son, Joshua, is an ardent Bobby Labonte fan, and his room is decorated with plenty of Interstate Battery-green memorabilia, with lots of red No. 18s. He has come to know, though, as all Labonte fans must, that he's got to now start incorporating Richard Petty-blue in there, and begin collecting things with 43s on them.

I know that he is feeling very positive about the new team, owner, and car make combination for Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Cup Champion, despite initially feeling crushed that the 'Interstate Battery' years are over. Labonte fans certainly have some things to be excited about, with this new Labonte 'recipe for success' set to launch this season. The crew chief, Todd Parrott, is well-known, and has worked with such NASCAR luminaries as Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, and Elliott Sadler. Just glancing at statistics from his time with Jarrett, it can be seen that he helped bring about several victories, a $1 million dollar No Bull 5 Bonus, and a Cup Championship.

Also, working in the wings as Executive Vice President of Operations of Petty Enterprises, we have none other than Robbie Loomis, himself an experienced former crew chief involved in victories and championships.

Another crucial component to success in NASCAR is lucrative sponsorships. Labonte's team's sponsors are notable and famous companies, ranging from Cheerios and Betty Crocker, to Hot Wheels and Sprint.

Additionally, as has been noted by the racing media as well as the fans, Petty Enterprises has been stepping up the pace in their engine program. Bobby Labonte is now working for one of the oldest racing families in the history of NASCAR, one known for their integrity and spirituality. This seems a precisely appropriate fit for Labonte, one of the most respected and gentlemanly drivers in NASCAR.

Stirring together all of these positive ingredients, it is easy to believe that Bobby Labonte and his new team will produce winning seasons for P.E., and all of Labonte's faithful fans.