Loudon: Labonte - Ford Saturday interview

Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, was the fastest among Ford drivers in Saturday's first practice. Labonte will start 28th in tomorrow's race. "I didn't really keep up with the lap times of anybody else, but I thought...

Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, was the fastest among Ford drivers in Saturday's first practice. Labonte will start 28th in tomorrow's race.

"I didn't really keep up with the lap times of anybody else, but I thought our car was pretty good. Ben [Leslie, crew chief] was saying that the lap times of the 48 weren't too bad and we were pretty close, so pretty comparable. So, I'm pretty happy with it, better than yesterday. I wasn't very happy with it yesterday. But, it's a new day, and we changed a few things -- not enough to make it, 'Oh, my gosh, it's way better,' but it's definitely better. We're going to keep digging on making it just a little better this next practice."

THE TIMESHEET SHOWS YOUR FASTEST TIME, BUT YOU'RE LOOKING AT LONGER RUNS, TOO. WHAT SPECIFICALLY ARE YOU LOOKING AT DURING A SATURDAY PRACTICE? "Mainly, a long run. It's always good to have a fast lap, but you don't want to run that in five laps and then slow way down. We were pretty happy with the 20-lap run that we made, and we never put tires on it, so we're just trying to get a balance on it with 30 and 40 laps on our tires than just making a five-lap run every time. That's what we're keying off of. I think 15th for a quick lap, but you're still comfortable with laps after 25 laps is good. Sometimes, you can fool yourself if you're the quickest on the sheet, but a light switch might come on or go off and fall off in 10 or 15 laps. You don't want to be quickest and fall of too much, but yet at the same time, I think that where we are at, 15th with the fast lap, it was pretty comfortable for what we feel like would be a good car for a long run."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PROGRESSION OF THIS TEAM AND ALL OF THE FORD TEAMS FROM THE START OF THE SEASON UNTIL NOW? LAST YEAR, STARTING WITH THE SECOND POCONO RACE, FORD WON EIGHT OF THE LAST 16 RACES. "You don't want to be too hard on yourself because you don't want to not win and make yourself not win by being too hard on yourself and screwing yourself up more. But I think that the first two races that Matt [Kenseth] won, that was great, then it kind of takes a while, but then after eight races or 10 races into it, you're like, 'Okay, maybe we're not as good as we thought we were,' you know what I mean? Or, the competition's gotten better. So, I think there's probably room to improve on some things. I do see a trend going the right way, but it's a peak and a valley, and we went to the valley for a little bit, and we don't want to have to wait until after Pocono to start peaking again. But, hopefully, the least that you can do is take the not-so-good and not-as-competitive times and learn from that and make it better, and try not to have the valleys as low as they might seem. I think everybody goes through it to a certain extent, but you just don't want to be on the low side very much."

-credit: ford racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte