Watkins Glen Is a Game of Risk Strategy Wins Road Course Races This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the ...
Watkins Glen Is a Game of Risk
Strategy Wins Road Course Races
This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Avenger team head to the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course for Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen. Sunday's race will be the final road course race of the season.
Labonte remains in the 20th position in NASCAR Nextel Cup championship points heading into this weekend. Labonte has been consistently strong in the Dodge Avenger. He has finished outside the top 20 in only three of the Car of Tomorrow races this season. The team has one top 10 in the Avenger at Phoenix earlier this season.
Labonte will be making his 15th start at Watkins Glen this weekend and his second start at the track for Petty Enterprises. Labonte has one pole and has started inside the top 10 on three occasions. His finishes have even been better. Labonte has six top 10's in his 14 previous starts. His best finish is fifth.
Comments from Labonte heading into this weekend's race at Watkins Glen:
"We had a good Avenger at Sonoma earlier this year. We unloaded really fast and the car was comfortable the entire weekend. Everyone was happy, but we just got bit on that last lap with fuel mileage. There were a lot of teams that were going for it. We just barely missed a fifth place finish. We know that we've got a good feel of what it takes to get an Avenger capable of running up front on the road course. Hopefully we can capitalize with a good finish this weekend.
"The new cars are pretty rigid. They don't have much give or take to them. You are doing a lot of different setups for a road course to get these things to turn left and right. We're playing with shocks, springs and everything else. It's a challenge to get these cars to really 'roll' through the turns.
"We were pretty excited about having a fast car at Sonoma. Paul (Andrews) and the guys really hit the combination on the get-go. That really helped us at Sonoma. I think every team has tested this car at a road course. We went to Road Atlanta and tested for this weekend. We learned some things and hopefully that will help this weekend. We tested before we went to Sonoma and it paid off. We are hoping for another fast car.
"I think we can get a pretty good handle on the car. The rest of this race will be played out on strategy. Paul has won at Watkins Glen in the past on strategy. He's pretty good about that. It seem like every team has one or two plans going into the race and when to pit. It's a different strategy than oval racing. This is a different game and sometimes, like we saw in Sonoma, it's a game of risk.
"The road courses are tricky races. A good car helps, but it's going to come down to pit strategy. It usually always does. It's a fuel mileage race and it's a track position race. We're going into a chess match played with these new cars. It's still a bit of an unknown, but we feel good about it."