Bobby Labonte - Dodge teleconference

Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, June 26, 2007 BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Avenger) THINGS LOOKED REAL GOOD AT SONOMA UNTIL THE LAST LAP "Yeah, we unloaded and we were probably the most prepared for this race...

Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Avenger)

THINGS LOOKED REAL GOOD AT SONOMA UNTIL THE LAST LAP "Yeah, we unloaded and we were probably the most prepared for this race than we'd ever been. We tested twice at VIR, Virginia International Raceway, so when we unloaded we felt pretty confident with the setup we had. We qualified 13th with a good, comfortable racecar. We had two good practices and everything was working really good. In the race, we were running in the top 12 or so and then we got turned around and went to the back. We were making our way back to the front and we were in going to be in pretty good shape and we ran out of gas with one lap to go and finished 33rd. It was one of those deals where we could at least hold our heads up a little bit because we had a good racecar and made a good showing."

WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR NHIS THIS WEEKEND? "John Andretti tested at Milwaukee the other day in the new Dodge Avenger. They had a pretty good test, so hopefully we can correlate that to what we need to have for Loudon. We did pretty good with Avenger so far this year on the flat tracks especially, so I feel like we're on the right track with that car, so hopefully it will continue when we get to New Hampshire this weekend."

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET INSIDE THE TOP 12 BY RICHMOND? "I think we have to run like we did this past weekend at Sonoma. We haven't been as competitive as we wanted to be and I looked at it after the race was over and we ran out of gas. We've been using up our luck because we haven't been racing as good. We haven't been performing as good, so we have to perform better basically and we have to perform better in the next few races. If we don't we're not going to be up there. We can't make it on a gas situation or making it by staying out of trouble. We just have to race better. We just haven't been doing it this year, especially on the bigger tracks. We have to race better to get in the top 12. That's the only way we're going to do it right now."

YOU'RE 244 POINTS OUT OF 12TH WITH 1O RACES LEFT IN THE REGULAR SEASON. CAN YOU MAKE UP THAT MANY POINTS? "I think so, but we finished 33rd at Sonoma and we backed up our 33rd with a 34th at Michigan. That just can't happen. There's no way, and if we don't get there, we won't deserve to get there because we won't be as good as we need to be. We have to be in the top 10 from here on out. You still can have a bad race or two, but you're going to have to be consistently racing in the top 10. That way when you have a bad day you won't feel so bad."

COMMENT ON CHALLENGES AND CHANGES ALONG THE WAY "It's way different and it's going to be different in two years than it is today. We just don't know what it will be. The demands on your time are so much more now than they used to be. The competition on the racetrack, the competition the drivers put on you and every driver is getting better. Everybody is 100 percent but now everybody is 100 percent in every area. It's ongoing. It's demands on your time, demand at the racetrack, challenges at the racetrack, trying to get your team working the best it can. Every year it gets harder and harder and tougher and tougher. That's what so great about competition. If you don't want to be doing it or you can't do it, you don't need to be doing it or you work harder to get better. That's always a great challenge."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CONTINUE GROWING? "Yeah, you do. I know that other people grow and teams grow faster than we grow. Then we have an earth-shattering moment and we catch up and then we have things that we don't catch up on. We all want to get the trophy at the end of the day. If you have any passion for competition and desire to be the best you can be and be better than everybody else, then that's what you work for."

WHAT WOULD YOU THINK IF NASCAR PENALIZED DRIVERS INSTEAD OF CREW CHIEFS FOR INFRACTIONS? "Because of the way the system is and all the demands on your time I don't think all the drivers have offices at the race shop to look over and watch everything that goes on. It would be kind of hard. I think NASCAR realizes a driver is just contract labor. We're really just contract labor to the race teams. So penalizing a race team for doing their actions that causes a penalty and then you penalize a driver for his actions. It's on his shoulders. Being separate is not bad. I don't think that's a problem. If you can't do that I think you've have a lot of drivers that would be asking a lot more questions. Or they might be saying 'don't do that,' I don't think that will happen. It would surprise me if it did."

WOULDN'T IT BE BETTER IF DRIVERS KNEW WHAT WAS IN THE CAR? "That's a valid point, but it's not the drivers don't know. I think 99 percent of them do know what goes on as far as that goes. The bad thing is I guess you can only say, like this past weekend, if Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson did know, and they might have known. If they thought it was bad enough they probably would have said something about it because they didn't think that was something that was going to get caught anyway. It really wasn't really illegal. It's not like you took four different tires to the racetrack that had totally different numbers on them. That's something different, but if you're working in a gray reason and its not really dictated that you can't do that then what do you know. If my guys had said 'let's try that' I probably would have agreed. Either you ask for forgiveness or you ask for permission."

WHAT DID THE BUSCH WIN AT TALLADEGA MEAN FOR YOU? "It's been pretty awesome. It's so hard to win races these days in some cases. Some guys win them every other week. We got that and it gives you confidence in your team and yourself to know that six weeks ago you won a race. It was a Busch race at Talladega, but we won a race. It gives you self confidence. Sometimes you think you've hit a roadblock and you can't get any further. What's holding me back here? But it gives you confidence to say what's on your mind."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Jimmie Johnson