BUSCH: Bobby Labonte Races to Win on Saturdays

Labonte races to win on Saturdays LAS VEGAS (March 4, 1999) Spend 10 minutes with Bobby Labonte and it's easy to see he wants to win every race he enters. It is common, however, for NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers to view Saturday NASCAR...

Labonte races to win on Saturdays

LAS VEGAS (March 4, 1999) Spend 10 minutes with Bobby Labonte and it's easy to see he wants to win every race he enters. It is common, however, for NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers to view Saturday NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division races as a way to prepare their cars for Sunday's premier NASCAR Winston Cup Series events. Go for a win or go for a test drive?

Labonte looks at Saturday's Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as more than a test for Sunday's Las Vegas 400. He intends to try to win and ask questions later in his first effort with new sponsor MBNA.

"I kind of feel like every time you get in a race car there is some kind of R & D, but my philosophy on driving is to just get out there and drive the car the best I can," said Labonte. "Hopefully, that will take me to the front and allow me to be competitive at the end of the race."

During these early days of the Las Vegas track, a driver must treat every lap as useful, and no matter how large a driver's appetite to win on Saturday, he can't help but learn techniques to be applied on Sunday.

"We've only run one Cup race at Las Vegas and there have been changes to the cars since last year," said Labonte. "We have made a lot of improvements to our flat-track program, so I think we'll be better."

It may come as a surprise that among the 18 weekends that hosted combined events last year, only one NASCAR Winston Cup Series winner earned a top-5 NASCAR Busch Series finish the day before. That was Jeff Burton, who finished second and first on consecutive nights last September at Richmond International Raceway. The 1998 season's average for NASCAR Winston Cup Series winners was only 18th in previous-day NASCAR Busch Series outings.

Perhaps the best strategy is to rely on a real test session like the one Labonte ran at Las Vegas in mid-January.

"The test was good," he said. "Our plan at every track is to get better the longer we are on the track. It's hard to tell with different kinds of cars, but maybe the Winston Cup test will end up helping how I'm able to drive the MBNA Pontiac on Saturday."

Tuning up a NASCAR Busch Series car with a NASCAR Winston Cup Series test? That would be a switch.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bobby Labonte