Bobby Labonte - Finer in Carolina?

Bobby Labonte looking to be finer in Carolina ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 17, 1999) Nothing would be finer than for Bobby Labonte and the Interstate Batteries Racing Team to have a strong run in Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 at...

Bobby Labonte looking to be finer in Carolina

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 17, 1999) Nothing would be finer than for Bobby Labonte and the Interstate Batteries Racing Team to have a strong run in Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 at North Carolina Speedway. Labonte and the team plan to return to their competitive form with a strong run at "The Rock."

"We had a frustrating day in the Daytona 500, but there's no sense worrying about it," Labonte said. "We need to go to Rockingham and have a good run."

Labonte said that tire wear and handling will be important factors during the 400- mile race. He added that wrestling an ill-handling car can make for a long afternoon at the 1.017-mile speedway.

"Rockingham is a lot like Darlington because the surfaces of both race tracks are abrasive," Labonte said. "Tire wear is going to be important. I'm sure that guys will be slipping and sliding all day. It's important to keep the car driving good and stay consistent on the long runs. Rockingham is one of those places where you can get lapped in a hurry if the car is not handling good."

Labonte and the team did not run as well as they would have liked in both races last year at North Carolina Speedway. He started 38th and was sidelined late in the event by an accident, collecting a 33rd-place finish in February's Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400. Labonte also battled an ill-handling car in October's AC/Delco 400, starting 19th and collecting a 15th-place finish.

In 10 career NASCAR Winston Cup starts at Rockingham, Labonte has one pole, one top-five and one top-10 finish. In the 1995 race at Rockingham, Labonte chased eventual race winner Jeff Gordon hard during the final miles of the event before finishing second.

"For some reason, we struggled in both races last year at Rockingham, but over the winter we think we've found what the problem was," Labonte said. "Two years ago we started both races from the front row so maybe it's our turn to run up front again."

Labonte also says qualifying is crucial at Rockingham. The track has pits on both the frontstretch and backstretch. Teams pitting from the backstretch are at a big disadvantage to those getting service on the frontstretch, so securing a good pit position is very important.

"We need to get in a good qualifying run Friday afternoon and nail down a frontstretch pit," Labonte said. "The last thing you want to do is pit from the backstretch. It's really hard to win when you're pitting on the other side of the track. I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just harder to do."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte