NASCAR WCUP: Mattei Motorsports makes switch to Chevrolet for 1999
9 December 1998Move also allows Mattei to form working relationship with Sabco
HARRISBURG, N.C. - Mattei Motorsports, which is gearing up for the 1999 Winston Cup season with a new driver and a new crew chief, is also making the switch to the Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
The team fielded the No. 7 Philips Ford Taurus in 1998 for driver Geoff Bodine. But following a season that left team owner Jim Mattei disappointed, he named a new driver in Michael Waltrip, and a new crew chief in Bobby Kennedy. He also announced the No. 7 car will be a Monte Carlo, sponsored by Philips beginning with the 1999 season.
"This No. 7 team has a long successful history with Ford," said Mattei. "But as this team heads into the next millenium, we felt it was time for a change," said Mattei. "With the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and an exciting new aerodynamic and chassis program with Felix Sabates' Sabco organization, we believe we can be more competitive in the future."
The past success of the No. 7 Ford includes the last NASCAR Winston Cup championship won by a Ford, that in 1992 by the late Alan Kulwicki. Since that title, Chevrolet has claimed the last six crowns: three by Jeff Gordon (1995, '97 and '98), two by Dale Earnhardt ('93 and '94) and one by Terry Labonte ('96).
Waltrip, who spent the past three seasons driving a Ford, is excited about this new opportunity.
"Chevrolet and General Motors has offered us a lot of help and has made us feel a part of Team Monte Carlo," said Waltrip. "You certainly have to like what they accomplished last year, and looking ahead, it will be really exciting to be involved in the development on the new car when it comes out in 1999."
When the new Monte Carlo arrives on the Winston Cup circuit next spring, Waltrip will have plenty of experience to fall back on when the learning process begins.
"I learned a lot through my experience with the Taurus, and also with the Pontiac. We built and tested the first new Grand Prix when it came into Winston Cup a few years ago, so I have done this before. I have learned a lot from that process, and it's made me better at knowing what is going to work and what's not."
Chevrolet Motorsports marketing manager Gary Claudio welcomes this latest addition to the Chevrolet lineup.
"We're very happy to have Mattei Motorsports become the newest member of Team Monte Carlo," said Claudio. "We're counting on Michael Waltrip to help us win another manufacturer's championship."
Mattei's new alliance with Team Sabco is expected to be a great compliment to the team's new personnel.
"We are excited about the organization we have put together for the 1999 season," said Mattei. "We are also optimistic about the engine, chassis and aerodynamic program with Team Sabco. We will share technology by joining forces with Sabco. We believe we can have the same results as a multi-car team, with the advantage of having the focus of a single-car team."