Bobby Labonte, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Monte Carlo: ON THE LAST RESTART "We came in and got two tires - was the biggest thing to help us from fifth to first on that restart on the last caution where we all pitted. That helped us...
Bobby Labonte, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Monte Carlo:
ON THE LAST RESTART
"We came in and got two tires - was the biggest thing to help us from fifth to first on that restart on the last caution where we all pitted. That helped us out to get that track position, but the two tires - we had a lot of laps to go on them and a lot of hard laps to go on them because we had a lot of pressure from behind. The guys did a great job in the pits. Fatback made a great call of taking two. He asked what I wanted - track position or tires. I said, 'Can I have a little bit of both?' He gave me two tires, which got us track position also. It was a great job on their part because I know we couldn't have passed them if we had restarted fifth because our car wasn't as good on four tires all day long on a restart, so it was a good call by them to get us a second place finish."
DID YOU HAVE A SHOT TO GO FOR THE LEAD?
"We held Jeff off as long as we could. Again, those two tires were going to be giving up. I saw that all day. I wish we had a few less laps to run when we got those two tires, but more probably would have gotten two tires also. We rubbed a little bit. But, that was hard racing. That was good, clean fun. We respect each other and I have to echo what Dale said, too. If I'd have been second and Jeff had been in front of me getting two tires, I would have raced him as hard as I could, as clean as I could and wouldn't have sent anybody up the racetrack. You just do that, obviously, with the respect for the person that you're racing - how he would race you. It was good, clean fun."
HOW IMPORTANT IS PATIENCE HERE TO FINISH WELL?
"I guess we were almost too patient there for a while at the beginning of the race. We were running two cars from the end. It didn't seem like it was too long and they said the leader was right behind us. I know we had passed a few cars. But, our car was really good all day and it was better in the long run. Thank goodness we had some long runs early in the race to get us past some cars and get us ahead of some cars for track position, so that helped out. But, we had to be patient all day. I ran the brakes pretty hard for the first half of the race and had to really be careful of that. I still had plenty left. But, this place here - whether you start up front or in the back you've got to be patient because it is such a grinding race on the race car."
(DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR MOMENTUM WILL CARRY OVER?
"We've been running good week in and week out. But, I'd like to think that we've been competitive week in and week out. We didn't get a chance at Talladega to even get warmed up...and I screwed up at Texas and got the car too loose and spun out off of turn two, so we had two bad weekends. We needed a good rally today and today was a good day. We take it one race at a time, but feel like we've got a good race team."
IS THE GENTLEMEN'S AGREEMENT OFF WHEN YOU KNOW THE RACE IS GOING TO END UNDER CAUTION?
d "The '97' car was over there in turn two and we knew it was going to end under caution, and we raced back as hard as we could. I don't think we could have passed each other anyway. We ran just hard enough where nobody was going to pass each. Obviously, if somebody would have stopped I think they would have gotten passed. But, we weren't going to stop. We were just going to hold up our end of it just to make sure we all got back just like it was racing back to the flag and making sure we just kept everybody honest. I don't think that would have come into play today."
ON THE FIRST HALF OF THE RACE BEING SO CLEAN
"It was. We started 39th, so I got to see a lot of race cars all day. You've still got your typical Martinsville beating and banging, but at the same time, both grooves were working pretty good. My car actually worked better in the bottom groove all day the last 50 laps when we got two tires, so I don't know exactly why I moved up. But, it seemed like it worked better for me. Last fall was the first time on the track after it was ground for whatever reason, so this was the second time around, so people were probably understanding it better, trying to figure it out, trying to get a better setup on it. That probably helped it out a little bit that the groove was a little bit better on the bottom and the top side was still working, too.
"I think everybody had the same goal and that was, 'Let's try to finish 500 laps.' I didn't see anybody go off the deep end."
ON TODAY'S SECOND PLACE FINISH ADDING TO HIS CONFIDENCE THIS YEAR
"This whole year - other than a couple of problems that we had that we really couldn't help on our own - we've had good finishes. That's what we try to build ourselves on in consistency and everything.
"We're really excited. Plus, we had a lot of pressure on us. My nephew finished second last night and my son finished second in his quarter midget race, so we had a lot of pressure on us today."
WHY DID YOU FEEL IT WAS IMPORTANT TO GO TO VICTORY LANE TO SEE JEFF GORDON?
"I just wanted to congratulate him. He had a great car all day. They qualified on the pole. They had a fast car. He almost lapped me at one time. I just wanted to go to victory lane to congratulate him because he did a really good job. He passed us fair and square. His car was fast and we tried to hold him off. But, he is obviously really good here, so we were really fortunate to finish second after we got two tires. We held him off for longer than probably I thought (we could).
"I just wish we could have had a few less laps in the race. I just wanted to congratulate him because he did such a good job. He told me, he said, 'Man, I thought we had you a lap down at one time.' I said, 'No. I knew when they said you were right behind us, we took off.' But, it was just one of those deals. It was good racing."
WOULD YOU HAVE BUMPED JEFF AT THE END TO TAKE THE LEAD?
d "Definitely. He didn't move me up the racetrack. We were racing pretty hard. We ran a lot of laps side by side and never touched. All that racing was good. This is Martinsville and I thought it was good racing. He did acknowledge me on the back straightaway. He kind of motioned to me. We respect each other a lot on the racetrack. We don't talk to each other a whole lot off the racetrack, but I respect his ability in a race car and I think he does the same for me. Again, it was a good hard race and nobody got into anybody hard. It was just good racing."