Sight of Season's First Top 10; Car of Tomorrow Program Highlighted by Eighth at Phoenix This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the ...
Sight of Season's First Top 10; Car of Tomorrow Program Highlighted by Eighth at Phoenix
This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team return to the one-mile Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway for Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500. Labonte's visit to Phoenix in April left the team with an eighth place finish and their first top-10 with the new car.
It was Labonte's ninth top-10 finish at the track. He has also earned three top-five finishes and is a former pole winner at the track. Labonte has finished in the top 10 over fifty percent of his races at the track. He has finished ninth or higher in five of his last six starts at Phoenix.
Comments from Labonte as he prepares for this weekend's Checker Auto Parts 500:
"We finished eighth at Bristol and eighth at Phoenix earlier this year with the Avenger. I think that showed us, pretty early in the game, that we felt confident with the new cars. It certainly makes us breath easier knowing that we can be up front with this car. It came early for us, and we have had time to continue to work on it.
"We're coming back to repeat another good performance. I think you certainly look at what worked before, but now you have a lot more notes to pull from too. We have a lot more information, but so does everyone else. You just hope that you're better or have better information than some of the other guys.
"I've always felt pretty good about the 'Car of Tomorrow' races. Like I said, we had a good jump on it and that helped. It's a boxier car, it's top-heavy and everyone has had that struggle of making it turn. It's just not designed to do what the others cars do. That was probably the purpose. It's tough because there is such a small box to work in, especially when you are trying to turn on track like Phoenix. It's tough on the mechanics and crew chiefs. The drivers are screaming to make it turn, but there is only so much you can adjust. You just have to learn to race with it.
"Phoenix is fast and flat. It's like New Hampshire in that manor, and we just saw one guy dominate there. If it's time for Clint (Bowyer) to make his move it's a good track for him to come to. It just seems that if you have something figured out right now it's going to work well for you. This is a tough game though because so many teams catch up so quickly.
"Turning the car in the corner has been the biggest factor. All the cars are fine going straight. That's not the issue, but getting them through the turn has been the puzzle. Petty Enterprises put in a lot of work on this program and we understand the car. That has helped us with the performance all year. We have more to learn, but we're getting better and have a good understanding of it.
"This car is just a new pair of shoes. We're all wearing them and starting to get used to them. Everyone is breaking it in and it's not a shock to see them race. They are quickly becoming the new cars and we're ready to race them full time in 2008. That time is here and that's fine. We're all getting better, and when you have some good finishes it's easier to make the transition.