Bobby Labonte - Ford interview 2009-01-28

Yates Racing has added former NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte and Paul Menard to its team for 2009, joining Travis Kvapil in what will start the season as a three-car team. Labonte and Kvapil spoke about their situations during last...

Yates Racing has added former NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte and Paul Menard to its team for 2009, joining Travis Kvapil in what will start the season as a three-car team. Labonte and Kvapil spoke about their situations during last week's Lowe's Motor Speedway media tour.

BOBBY LABONTE -- No. 96 Ford Fusion

HOW HAS THIS VENTURE GONE SO FAR? "Well, it's been nine or 10 days into is so things are still new for me, but I'm so excited. It's a great opportunity and it's just weird that it happened in January. The good thing is it happened before the media tour because that way now we can get and the folks at Hall of Fame Racing out there in the media. But if it was a perfect world, it would have happened in September, October, November, but it's gonna be great. A lot of things have transpired the last 10 days and we're going racing. The guys at the race shop, the race cars are built and we've got cars going everywhere, so it's a flurry of activity."

IS GETTING READY FOR THE SEASON AS EXCITING AS EVER OR IS IT HARD TO GET UP FOR? "I look at this as a reset. I figure the next race I win will feel like the first one because you have success and you want more success, if you really want to do it. You want to have it. It's about winning and being the best you can be in the sport that you're in, so I view it that way myself. I feel like this is a great opportunity and it's given me that reset button that I can push and go forward, so, hopefully, great things will come out because of that."

HOW STRESSFUL IS IT TO GO THROUGH THAT? "My agent, Terry Labonte, and advisor and all that stuff has always advised me of things to do and not that I took everything into perspective, but I think I've done a lot of the right things and I guess I've made him proud because I did take a lot of his advice and made it to wherever something were to happen to anybody -- if something were to happen, we're OK. But, obviously, just the opportunity and the desire to do what you want to do, and being able to get up everyday with the desire to race to win, is still there."

DID YOU BEAT UP THE PHONES TO GET THROUGH THE OFFSEASON? "I beat up the phones some and then I kind of laid off, and then my wife said, 'You need to beat them up,' but I hated to bother people too much because I didn't want to wear people out. I've seen that happen before, so I said, 'Well, I'll go back to the phones and start wearing people out again.' I think that was the rollercoaster part of the movie. Then there were some horror times in it, but then we could laugh about it sometimes, too. I got a lot more done and kind of realized a lot more than what I might have worried about before and took for granted before."

WHAT WERE THE THINGS IN YOUR MIND WHEN THE YATES OPPORTUNITY CAME UP? DID YOU THINK IT WOULD BE A GOOD PLACE TO LAND? "Oh yeah, definitely. Like I said the other day, I had a conversation with Doug late last year and the complicated part about life and stuff like that is I couldn't do anything, really, until after my release was signed. That wouldn't have been right. But he (Doug) was one of the first guys I called and left him a message saying, 'Hey, I finally got out of this deal,' and I knew if he could have, or if we could have made the deal happen then, I think it could have, but a lot of things had to take place before it could happen. There's no doubt in my mind that with Todd and the resources that are there, and the group that's been put together -- and the Hall of Fame thing has added to it. I'm not saying it's a great opportunity just because it's a ride, it's a great opportunity because it's more than just a ride. It's hard to explain it over what I've done, but I don't think I even know the potential of it yet. What we're gonna make of it is what the potential is."

DOUG SAID JUST HAVING UNIFORMS WITH SPONSORS ON IT IS A BIG DEAL AROUND THE SHOP. "Yeah. I think that definitely would boost anybody's morale and I think we need to be appreciative of that. If the bat would have swung the other way, what would have happened? We all feel this is a great opportunity and Todd being the main focus for me by being the crew chief and making sure the chemistry is right and having great teammates and great resources, there's a lot more there that I haven't even probably seen and touched yet or felt yet. Obviously, I haven't even been to the race track. It's a weird time because we haven't tested yet."

IN A LOT OF WAYS YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE UNTIL YOU GET IN THE CAR. "Yeah, until you get the first practice and at this point in time, the first practice will be it, so that will be unique and challenging in itself. I've talked to Biffle before. I've talked to Paul before, so I can actually go and ask those questions that you wanted to ask before but you never did because my personality wouldn't let me go and dig into things that would probably be private, so this is a great opportunity for me and I don't think I could ask for anything better. If it was September of last year or January this year, it would be the same feeling. I guess that's the key thing we've got to put our focus on. We've been given a great opportunity and we've got to make the best of this."

-credit: ford racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Paul Menard , Travis Kvapil
Teams Hall of Fame Racing , Yates Racing