CHARLOTTE - While on track success stories have been few and far between, JTG Daugherty Racing remains optimistic about what lies ahead.
The single car Toyota team returns veteran Bobby Labonte as its driver this season, who is now paired with crew chief Todd Berrier formerly of Richard Childress Racing. The two have already formed a solid relationship in a brief period of time and Labonte believes their veteran presence as well as management's continued support will be beneficial to improving the team's performance.
“It’s got its pros and cons," Labonte said of being a solo car effort going against the mammoth multi-car operations. "It’s definitely not going to be easy, but there are a lot of things that we can do as a small team thatwill make some differences. The great support of Toyota and their facility and what they give us is like being a part of a bigorganization.
"It’s just now that Tad (Geschickter, team owner), Jodi (Geschickter, team owner) and Brad (Daugherty, teamowner) have to put the funding into it to make that happen. There are a lot of good things with that and I think that’s a plusfor us. With a small group -- everybody has to pull their weight. I do believe there is a challenge for us, but at the same time we’ll have to hit everything right and if we do then we’ll have more success than not."
Berrier spent his entire career with RCR, one of the sport's powerhouse organizations. But now he moves to the smaller-sized JTG team and admits the transition has taken some time.
However he is enthused about the resources and support he has at his disposal.
“I’ve been a part of things smaller than this up to things larger than this," Berrier said. "It is cool to know that we do have a small group ofpeople and we all impact it a lot. If one person lays out of work today -- everybody is going to have to work five minutes tomake it up. Before, when you grow these things into monsters, you can have 10 people lay out and you didn’t even knowanybody was missing. The only thing different is that we have resources and pretty much the same resources -- I think withToyota and their backing and the things they support us with, it’s no different than what I’ve been used to."
If all pans out, JTG Daugherty will expand to a two-car effort next season and in fact may field a second entry in selected races this year.
Labonte says the best way to reach that goal is to perform in 2012 and is encouraged by the propsects.
"I think every Sunday -- no differentthan any other team, we’ll give it our best and have some races that we know we will have more confidence going into," he said. "All in all it’s going to be a great way to build our race team into a bigger team next year as well.”
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