Charlotte: Bobby Labonte post-race interview

Bobby Labonte - ...

Bobby Labonte - #18 FedEx Chevrolet
2nd position Press Conference

WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE AT ALL TO KEEP JIMMIE JOHNSON FROM GETTING AROUND YOU?

Well, I guess I would have run the outside line. I thought I had him off of Turn 2 when he was low and he was underneath me and he slid up and got behind me and I pulled away a little bit, I just had to drive my line if you know what I mean. So I drove my line in there and just got on the gas as hard as I could. He just made the outside work better than I did. I've done that before. I've done that to guys many times. I didn't want to give up the inside just right then and I thought I could do it, but it just didn't turn out.

WOULD ONE MORE LAP HAVE BEEN ENOUGH TO HOLD OFF JOHNSON?

No, I think one less lap would have been the right thing to have. I was wishing the white flag would have been the checkered flag, but it wasn't. Jimmie had a really fast car and we fought all night long. We were a lap down at lap 60 and it was such a night where you'd see guys who had fast race cars - like Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch - and then at times they weren't. It was all back and forth. We had the same thing as far as not having a fast car. And then we had a better car and then we had better track position. We were fortunate to have some good breaks there and one less lap would have been all right. But it didn't turn out. I had him beat off of Turn 2 and he got behind me and went into Turn 3 just like I did - I was already a bit loose - I hammered it on in there and got on the gas as fast as I could but got passed on the outside. I protected the bottom more than the top because I thought that was the place to be because he tried to get me a little bit on the bottom in both those corners the lap before. It just didn't work out.

THIS IS GREAT FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM SINCE IT'S YOUR FIRST TOP 5 OF THE SEASON

It really is. We had a 6th at Phoenix and an 8th at Richmond and now a 2nd here. It's obviously a little more consistent than it was at the beginning of the year. Well, obviously we had consistency at the beginning of the year but it was just at the wrong end of the scale. So we've got some consistency back on the front side. All the guys did a great job. They worked hard.

We didn't have the fastest car to win. It would have been nice, but we were lucky to be at the right place at the right time. We started dead last because we had to change a transmission before qualifying that got us at the back of the pack. We passed a lot of cars to finish second.

ON THE RECORD-SETTING NUMBER OF 22 CAUTIONS IN THE RACE

That's pretty high. Obviously there were a lot of wrecks and caution flags and stuff like that and we just dodged them all. A lot of guys didn't. We were fortunate enough to finish second and we had a decent car at the end. I can't really say much about it. We weren't involved in anything fortunately, so it probably helped us out.

ARE THE HENDRICK AND ROUSH CARS AS UNBEATABLE AS THEY SEEM TO BE?

At one time tonight, we were up front and I got passed by four cars and they were all the Hendrick cars. So obviously they were really fast. They all didn't finish, but one of them won (Johnson). The others had tough luck. They were pretty fast for the most part. Roush cars are pretty good too. But I guess when you've got more cars than anybody else, it's a little bit easier to be that way too, sometimes.

AFTER FIVE HOURS OF RACING WITH NO BREAKS, YOU'VE GOT TO BE TIRED RIGHT NOW

No, actually I'm not. It's not too bad. My air conditioner in my helmet didn't work all night. I had a new helmet, which I probably shouldn't have done. It got hot on the red flag more than anything. But when you're focused and your Adrenalin is flowing (you stay alert). But I'm sure sometime about three o'clock in the morning it'll finally hit me and I'll go to sleep. But I'm not toast. I'm mentally drained because I ran that last lap over and over already several times while we're sitting here talking. Still, all in all, I'm a little bit disappointed I didn't win, but I didn't have the fastest race car. If I had won, it wouldn't have been in the record books. But I'd have known it wasn't the fastest race car. I'd rather have the fastest race car. We've got to work real hard to do that. We don't have those yet. I think we can get there. The guys do a good job. So, I'm not toast, but I'm wishing I could have run one less lap tonight.

ON THE TRACK SURFACE, WAS IT A PROBLEM?

This afternoon I was doing hospitality in the FedEx suite and I looked down (on the track) and there was new white concrete powder dust going into Turn 1. And at one time there, it looked like boulders were flying out when the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) got a hole in his nose. So there was definitely something there that came apart. After that, the ruts were there, which was better than the concrete that was in put in there because the epoxy came up. So the ruts were there, but they weren't as bad as the stuff coming up. So there were a couple of issues there evidently.

DID YOU HAVE TO DRIVE AROUND IT?

After a while, you just drove right through it or around it. Heck, you were going so fast, you couldn't se it anyway.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Kyle Busch