Atlanta II: Bobby Labonte preview

Atlanta Comes at Best Time Best Track forTeam/Driver with Momentum This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the ...

Atlanta Comes at Best Time
Best Track forTeam/Driver with Momentum

This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head to the 1.54-mile Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway for Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500.

Labonte will be making his 30th start at the track in a Nextel Cup car. He leads all active drivers in victories at the track with six wins (1996, 97, 98, 99, 2001, 03). Labonte also has the most wins of any driver at the Atlanta since it was reconfigured for the November race of 1997. Labonte has scored five wins on the track since.

He has a career record of 13 top-10 and 12 top-five finishes at the track, two poles (1996, 1999) and has led 957 laps. Since joining Petty Enterprises, Labonte has ha three races at Atlanta with two top-10 starts and two top-16 finishes.

Comments from Labonte as he prepares for this weekend's Pep Boys 500:

"It's not going to hurt that Atlanta is the next race. The track has been good to me and our Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team has a good chemistry right now. We're probably at our strongest point right now in the season. I don't think we've come close to hitting a peak either. We're getting better.

"The cars have been good out of the shop, the guys are doing a good job preparing them at the track and Doug (Randolph) and I are getting better with our communication during the race. We've gained momentum because of that. Doug is a guy that I enjoy working with. It's working for us right now and we're looking forward to Atlanta.

"We had a strong finish last season and I think we're doing that right now. You don't see the finishes to show for it, but the cars have been that good. That part will come. Eventually the luck is going to change and those finishes will come. It's been good for everyone on the team and at the shop to watch the car run up front. That hard work is making a difference.

"It's not a bad thing to hit a stride at the end of the season either. I think we did that last year and carried it over into the beginning of the year. We lost some of that momentum, but we're getting it back. We want to sustain that throughout this season and next year too. The team is pretty strong with our group of guys and consistency is getting better.

"You enjoy roller coaster rides at parks, but you don't like riding them throughout the season. You work so hard to keep everything going up. You try to get better and better each week or maintain. That's what you see with the best teams each year. We're building on that. We don't want to hit our ceiling any time soon. We feel good about the program right now, but we're still getting better too. We're just excited to get to Atlanta and take our next step."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte