BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON HIS ENGINE FAILURE "It broke something in the bottom end of the motor. I hate it for all the guys on this Interstate Batteries Pontiac. When the mirror vibrates like mine was...
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON HIS ENGINE FAILURE
"It broke something in the bottom end of the motor. I hate it for all the guys on this Interstate Batteries Pontiac. When the mirror vibrates like mine was it's usually a connecting rod or a crank or something. The oil pan has got dents in it from the inside, so something let go down there."
JOHNNY BENSON, NO. 10 EAGLE ONE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON STAYING OUT ON THE LAST STOP TO TRY TO WIN THE RACE
"We were running about ninth and we knew we weren't going to beat them from there. We knew that (staying out) was our best opportunity. We really couldn't do anything else. We weren't able to come from the back, so we took the gamble. James [Ince] said, 'What do you think? Do you want to stay out?' I said, 'Yeah, let's go for it,' and I stayed out.
"I knew the guys on four tires were coming. I thought maybe I could hold off the guys with two tires. I didn't think I could hold anybody off with four tires and that ended up proving to be the case. I was kind of hoping that they would get to racing behind us. That was helping me, but eventually they got by us. They went by me like I was standing still.
"Right at the end, it was probably as good as it had been all day. We ran eighth or ninth - right in that area - but couldn't go forward, so it was the right choice for us, just to stay out. It allowed us to lead some laps and gave us an opportunity to try and steal it, and we ended up third. We're extremely how we've been running and real happy how the team has been doing."
ON RACING TO WIN
"Absolutely. That is what we're here for and that's what we're trying to do. If we had come in, put tires on it and come out eighth or ninth, if the car had been really good I might have gotten to sixth. We were having a hard time moving forward, so it was the right move. We had seen that people staying out could almost hold their own up front. Track position is extremely premium nowadays. Like everybody has said, if you get behind somebody you get such an aero push that it's very difficult. "We just thought we'd take the gamble. I didn't feel we had anything to lose because we could have fallen back nine spots and been right where I was. We were just going to go for the win and hope that these guys got to running side-by-side. It just didn't quite pay off. But we finished in the top five and I think any time we can run in the top five, a win should be right around the corner."
ON THE PRIDE HE HAS IN HIS TEAM
"I'm really proud of all the guys that work on this Valvoline and Eagle One Pontiac. The guys are working hard. I'm real confident in James Ince, Gary Putnam, Tim Turner - everybody at the shop. Those guys are working so hard. I appreciate it, and I go in there enough to have some fun when I'm there, too."
IS THIS A TURNING POINT IN THE SEASON?
"No. It's not a turning point, by any means. We've been running good all year long. I would just like to win one of these once. But all in all, I'm real happy. I'm just real excited how everybody has come together."
IS A WIN RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER?
"Well, I've been thinking that for awhile. It seems to be right in front of us. I'm hoping the day that we do break through, it will come a little easier. I doubt it, but I can hope. This first one just seems to be tough."
ON BOTH HE AND HIS TEAMMATE (KEN SCHRADER) FINISHING IN THE TOP 10
"We're real excited. Everybody is just trying to make the most of our opportunities, and run the best that we can."
ON THE AERO PUSH YOU EXPERIENCE BEHIND SOMEONE
"You need to get a good balance. If you're good up front, you're going to be tight behind somebody. If you get it where you're really good behind somebody, there is a good chance that you're going to be real loose up front. We played both sides of the fence. We got the car where it was loose, we got it where it was tight and never got it perfect. I think at the end I was as good as I had been, as far as the balance of the race car, but wasn't fast enough to beat anybody with tires.
"I think everybody had the same problem. We saw it following people. When they were tight up against somebody they had a hard time coming up off the corner. You could see a lot of guys getting runs on people when that was happening or when guys got side-by-side. Even when you were down at the bottom trying to pass somebody, the thing would aero-push bad. You're doing 190 miles per hour and you're doing over 180 coming up off the corners. Aero is a big part."
DID THIS REMIND YOU OF LAST YEAR'S DAYTONA 500?
"No. I didn't get hit this time. He (Dale Jarrett) had four tires. He could probably run anywhere he wanted. I knew I had to stay on the bottom because if would have gotten up into the top groove, the world would have gone by. I just made sure to stay on the bottom. I saw the '88' coming. He was coming fast. I didn't even challenge him for the lead. I did what I could to run as fast as I could, but I wasn't going to try to block him. He would have run me over. And the same with Steve [Park] - when Steve was coming, he was coming hard. They had the good tires, so I let them go around the outside just to save me from having any other problems and other guys getting runs on us. It enabled us to come out of here third with the Eagle One Pontiac."
IS IT STILL A ONE-GROOVE RACETRACK?
"I couldn't run the top most of the day. I had to stay on the bottom. There really wasn't a top [groove], but some of the guys ventured up there. You could on some of the restarts when your tires were good. But as the tires got old it was very difficult for us. Some of the people were able to run up there, but I think most of the time everybody stayed on the bottom."
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 EAGLE ONE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON HANGING IT ALL OUT AT THE END
"It's just a situation where we're always going to hang it out. It's not because we want to, it's just that we want to win one of these things so damn bad. It's not that the sponsors are putting pressure on us or the owners are putting pressure on us. We, as a race team, want to win one of these races. I've got all the faith in the world in Johnny Benson. When it's time to stand up on the wheel, he can do that. We had a good car. We just had to be out front with it to try to do what we needed to get done."
WAS STAYING OUT A DIFFICULT CALL TO MAKE?
"No, it's not a hard call to make. We've got so much faith in each other that we can't make a wrong call because we'll support each other on whatever we do here. "I was gambling three positions for a win. I think we came out seven or eight spots ahead of where we would have finished, so it's not a hard call. This race team is awfully strong. This race team is awesome. These guys all do a good job. Gary Putnam does his job. Johnny does his job. All the guys at the shop do their's. We're just trying to win one."
DID YOU HAVE TO SELL JOHNNY ON THE IDEA OF STAYING OUT?
"It seems like I've had more opportunities to try to sell him ideas. It started at the Daytona 500 last year. He decided he couldn't win and then he saw that maybe he could. "He is a lot easier to get pumped up now. He is not willing to give one away with 15 or 20 laps to go. He is going to sit up and drive it."
COULD YOU HAVE MADE THAT CALL A YEAR AGO WITH LAST YEAR'S TIRE?
"I don't know. We probably would have tried it. This is the first race I've ever finished at Texas, so I couldn't have told you anything about this race. It was kind of a hard day for me because I had never been past halfway to understand what race strategy would be. Everything today, to me as a crew chief, was very new, but we're always going to do whatever we've got to do to try to win one."
ON HAVING A GOOD POINTS DAY
"That's always a plus on top of everything else. It matter in the back of our minds, but boy, do we want to win."
KEN SCHRADER, NO. 36 M&M'S PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON HIS RUN
"We just were a little too tight and had to keep adjusting. But we kept adjusting and when they (the crew) got us a pit stop where they got us out to the front of the 'lap down' cars we were able to get our lap back, and came around to get a top 10 out of it. "We're just gaining. You've got to crawl before you can walk and we're almost crawling pretty good right now. This is a whole lot more fun racing."
ON REBOUNDING FROM A BAD PIT STOP EARLY THAT DROPPED YOU TO 35TH ON A
"The difference is on that green flag run we went from last to 19th, which means you just ain't riding - you're making gains - and we're gaining on it.
ON THE CREW TURNING IN SOME 14 SECOND STOPS LATE IN THE RACE
"We've made a few little changes. It's just chemistry because we took some guys from the '10.' (Benson's team)
ARE YOU STARTING TO FEEL LIKE YOU CAN GO TRY TO WIN ONE OF THESE?
"Let's just keep doing what we're doing first."