BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: WERE YOU PLAYING "OPOSSUM" ALL NIGHT WITH THE FIELD? "Not really. We couldn't go, we couldn't get anywhere, so we just hung out at the back. That was kind of our game plan from...
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
WERE YOU PLAYING "OPOSSUM" ALL NIGHT WITH THE FIELD?
"Not really. We couldn't go, we couldn't get anywhere, so we just hung out at the back. That was kind of our game plan from the beginning. We really only raced about seven laps tonight and finished fifth. I don't know what that tells you, but all I know is that I really want to congratulate Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. That was an awesome run. I wish I could have finished second, but Michael [Waltrip] had it different. He [Waltrip] had an awesome car tonight and finished second. Congratulations to DEI [Dale Earnhardt, Inc.]. They had a great night tonight and we finished fifth. Our guys did a good job. Our game plan, I guess, might have worked tonight."
ON DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
"There is no doubt he was the favorite before he got here this weekend. I think they were good all night. He had a fast car."
BY "FAVORITE," DO YOU MEAN SENTIMENTAL OR THE CAR TO BEAT?
"Both - sentimental and the car to beat. He had both. He was fast in practice. He was fast on the racetrack and was the sentimental favorite, of course, also."
ARE YOU RELIEVED THIS RACE IS OVER?
"Yeah, of course we are. Tonight I raced about seven or eight laps all night long. That doesn't seem right, does it? But, this was just a great deal for Dale, Jr., and Michael Waltrip and all those guys at DEI. That's what it was all about here. The racing, on my part, wasn't much other than right there at the end. "Jimmy [Makar] and them made a great call for Tony [Stewart] and I to pit. They had that caution - anything could have happened - and we got track position there and that is what you needed because you can't hardly pass sometimes. You can get boxed in. This is one time where that strategy worked out for us. Sometimes it will come up to bite you, but this time it worked out for us."
"But, on that restart, I was running second to Junior and Michael got by me. He had a really fast race car. I got shuffled back to fifth, which is probably better than I should have been tonight, so I can't complain too much."
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING THE LAST FEW LAPS?
"They were beating all over each other and everything and you're just hoping that nothing happens."
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON YOUR RUN
"It was a good run for us. The Pontiacs are at such a disadvantage here. The '8' car went by us like we were standing still, but he went by everybody. You don't go by yourself on the outside and make that kind of time up. But it's OK. It was good that Junior won. I know he wanted to win and he got it done. We just did what we could and tried to hang on, but the minute he went up there it about spun me out and then everybody got underneath me. I just had to hang in the middle."
DID YOU SEE IT COMING?
"I saw it coming from eight car lengths back. It was pretty easy to see. But it's cool. I'm glad that he won."
ANY SATISFACTION IN ANOTHER GOOD RUN AT DAYTONA?
"Oh yeah. We always have a great race car when we come to the superspeedways. It's just always at the end that all the other makes just blow right by us."
KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON YOUR RUN
"We just didn't have enough speed. It was good, but we just didn't have enough speed. I could just hold on. I could take advantage of the air and get up there, but then all I could do was just hold on. It was still a good run for us. I wish we'd have gotten up there a little farther, but we raced pretty solid all night."
WHY DIDN'T YOU CHOOSE TO HANG AT THE BACK AND THEN MAKE A MOVE LATE IN THE RACE?
"I hung around the back all day one time at Talladega (spring 2000) and then got in a wreck and really felt bad, so I figured, 'The heck with it. If we're going to get in a wreck we're going to be up front and make everyone happy."
ARE THE PONTIACS AT A BIG DISADVANTAGE HERE?
"It sure appears that way."
ON DALE JR. WINNING
"That is nothing but fantastic. That is just fantastic. There's no better way to do it tonight."
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
DID YOU THINK JOHNNY WAS A SITTING DUCK ON THE LAST RESTART?
"We weren't a sitting duck other than the '8' car. We knew the '8' was awful awesome. They've been fast here all weekend. We thought if we could keep the '8' car behind us we'd be OK. But he got such a run on us when he came, he was running so much quicker than we were that we couldn't recover. It put us back to the back of the deal. "But, for us at Daytona, we're almost getting used to this. It seems like we keep putting ourselves in the right position at the end of the deal. One of these days we're going to figure out what everybody else has got figured out."
DID ANYTHING HAPPEN BETWEEN YOUR CAR AND THE '20' CAR COMING DOWN THE STRETCH?
"Nothing, other than the fact he tried to pass down through the infield - that is the only thing I saw. I saw that they black-flagged him. I don't think he pitted. I'm not sure how they're going to work all that out. I know he was trying awfully hard to get back up through there like everybody was. But, it was almost pretty big there at the end with him."
ANY THOUGHTS ON THE FACT THAT THE '20' CAR BELIEVES THE '10' CAR PUSHED THEM DOWN BELOW THE LINE
"There is a gas pedal on the right and a brake in the middle. It was pretty clear in the drivers meeting where the yellow line was. We didn't tell him to go below it."
GREG ZIPADELLI, CREW CHIEF, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
"We were penalized for being forced below the yellow line. That was their rule. Do I agree with it? I do, but I think there are some circumstances at times that put people in that situation. It's a very sensitive situation and we were one of those people. We have to live and go on with the decision that they made. It's costly for us to go from sixth to 26th or whatever, with the points being as important as they are and really honestly feeling like we still had a shot at the championship. With the '40' car and the '24' car having a bad day today and the '88' and all them finishing behind us, it could have been a huge night for us and it turns out to be maybe one of the most disappointing nights in my career.
"They did say in the drivers meeting that if you did go below the yellow line and they caught you that they would penalize you. All I ask them was to be fair. I don't know if I agree with their decision, but I understand their reasoning. Obviously, I'm going to be partial to the way that I see it because, here is my investment. I understand that their reasoning is that they made a rule and if they don't enforce it, then their rules don't mean anything. So, on both sides of it, it's one of those judgment calls and one of those situations. We've come out on the end of it that's costly. But, we'll just go on. We'll go to Chicago."
DID JOHNNY BENSON FORCE TONY DOWN THERE?
"He did and they (NASCAR) don't debate that. You can't debate it. But the thing is, we advanced our position because we passed the '10' car going below the yellow line when he forced us there.
"What do you do? You lift? You don't? You cause a wreck? You spin the '10' car out because he was moving from one lane to the other, which he didn't have any right to do? But, that's not the rule. You've got to treat people with respect. It's three laps to go and we're racing for a million dollars. I wouldn't expect my driver to lift in those circumstances.
"He didn't intentionally go down there to pass him (Benson), but we did go below the line and that's what the rule says. It doesn't say, 'depends how you get there,' it just says, 'if you do go below the line.' If you look at it that way, we're getting the penalty that is coming to us."
WHY WAS TONY SO UPSET?
"He's a fierce competitor, no different than myself. To us, we didn't think it was fair on the way we were looking at it. That's the important thing. We were looking at it one way and we don't think it's fair. But, if you look at it the way they are, it's almost cut and dried. We just went it to debate our side. A decision is a decision."