Labonte, Edwards, McMurray, Menard - Ford interview 2009-06-02

This Week in Ford Racing: The month of June kicks off with the first of two visits to Pocono Raceway and a few Ford drivers talked about what they like about the triangular-shaped race track and whether or not the length of the race should ...

This Week in Ford Racing:

The month of June kicks off with the first of two visits to Pocono Raceway and a few Ford drivers talked about what they like about the triangular-shaped race track and whether or not the length of the race should be shortened. Bobby Labonte (3) and Carl Edwards (2) have won multiple times there while Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard are still looking for their first.

CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion

YOU'VE HAD GOOD SUCCESS AT POCONO, SO YOU MUST LIKE GOING THERE. "I love Pocono. The first time we went to Pocono we won and it was a blast. I think the last time we were there we won and I love racing there. It's fun and it's a neat race track. I like different things. I like the bumps it has and its irregular shape, and being where it's at, I think it's a cool part of the country, so I like it."

IS THAT RACE TOO LONG? "No, people always talk about that. Hey, if I bought a ticket, I want the race to be 1,000 miles long. I don't care if someone casually watching on TV thinks the race is too long. It's for the fans that come to the race. They want to see a 500-mile race. I think there's something about that number - 500 miles - that I think is cool. I think it means something when you race that far, and the history of it, too. I don't think you should change it."

YOU START TRAVELING FOR BOTH RACES NOW - POCONO AND NASHVILLE NEXT WEEK. DOES THAT GET ANY EASIER GOING BACK AND FORTH? "Those are actually not that difficult because I don't have to practice as much, so I end up being able to focus. Rides in airplanes are not grueling, so I like it."

IS THE NASHVILLE TROPHY THE COOLEST? "Yeah, that Nashville guitar is about as cool as it gets right there. I mean, a trophy you can make music with is pretty cool."

BOBBY LABONTE - No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion

YOU'VE BEEN GOING TO POCONO FOR YEARS. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT TRACK AND THE LENGTH OF THAT RACE? "Pocono is a neat race track to go to, but 500 miles is a long ways there. I think 500 kilometers would sound better, probably. If they'd just change the letter a the end it would be better for us, but it's a neat track to race on because you've got so many different aspects to the corner in the three corners that you have that you can have a different challenge in every corner. It's fun from that standpoint, but when you get 100 laps done and still have 100 more to go, it just can be dreadful at times. But as far as fun, on a scale of 1-10, it's about an 8.5 or 9, but as far as length it's about a 2 - too long."

THE LONG POND STRAIGHTAWAY IS UNIQUE. DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF TIME TO GATHER YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT'S GOING ON?

"You get a little time, but when you come off of turn three and you're to the point where you get to the wall and you're coming up off the corner, before you get to the start-finish line you're trying to analyze that corner, but then you've got a lull of time before you say, 'OK, turn one,' and you start counting down three, two, one on the markers getting in, so, unlike some places, there is definitely on the front straightaway a span that you can kind of scan things on your gauges and think about things differently than you do at a place like Dover, where you don't really have the time. Even off of turn one is the same way, to a certain extent, but you definitely have a long straightaway there. You can't eat a hamburger, but you can probably think about eating a hamburger."

IS IT STILL A COMPROMISE TYPE OF TRACK OR DOES THIS NEW CAR ALLOW YOU TO HIT IT PERFECT ALL THE WAY AROUND?

"I don't think it's quite possible. I think that everybody still wants to be really, really good off turn three because that carries a lot of speed down the front straightaway, but I think the level of competition is getting better where they figure things out and you don't compromise as much. If you said, 'Well, I'm only gonna work on turn one,' you'll probably get it really good, but you won't be as good in turn three, so there is a little bit of a balance you've got to have, but not like it used to be with the old car probably, to a certain extent."

JAMIE MCMURRAY - No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion

DO YOU LIKE POCONO? "I like Pocono, but it hasn't been a very good track for us. I don't know why, but it seems if we finish in the top 10 there it's just really, really great. It just hasn't been a good place for us."

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE LENGTH OF THAT RACE? "That's the one race that they could shorten. I'd rather run 600 miles at Charlotte than 500 at Pocono. It's just a long race and it would be better if it was like 400 miles. It just seems like a long race. I guess because the speeds aren't very high or an average lap time either, so maybe it takes a little longer."

PAUL MENARD - No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON POCONO? "I haven't raced there a whole lot, so I like it a lot, actually. It seems like a lot of the guys that race there all the time or who have raced there more than me don't like it, but I like the area. It's rural and there's not a whole lot going on, which is kind of my style. It's a nice area and a unique race track."

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO GETTING AROUND THERE? "Every corner is a little bit different. If you're good at one end, you're probably not good at the two other ends, so it's a compromise for sure. The tunnel turn is one where you've really got to suck it up to get through there in qualifying and then in the race there's a lot of give and take. But it's definitely a fun track to drive."

IS THE RACE TOO LONG? "I think all the races should be shortened, honestly. I think you lose interest after 300 miles, but that's just my opinion."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Jamie McMurray , Paul Menard , Carl Edwards