Bobby Labonte post Atlanta interview

BOBBY LABONTE INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN SINCE CLINCHING THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT HOMESTEAD "I don't know about hectic but I finally got my jacket and got to keep it. We got the trophy too so it definitely is ...

BOBBY LABONTE INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN SINCE CLINCHING THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT HOMESTEAD
"I don't know about hectic but I finally got my jacket and got to keep it. We got the trophy too so it definitely is starting to feel like we've accomplished something. I can't say it's been business as usual because it's been different. It's been exciting to be on the top of the Winston Cup Series. I'm just very fortunate that we've had such a great season and have a lot of great employees. We've been blessed with a lot of things this year."

ON WHAT THE PROSPECT FROM JOE GIBBS RACING IS TO REPEAT AS CHAMPION
"I think everybody that has ever won a championship always wants to repeat the next year. I definitely know how hard it is to win a championship. Our team has worked real hard this year and has overcome a lot as far as some weekends that we weren't running as good and came out with a good finish. Next year, there is no doubt that we would love to repeat as champion. Everybody wants to do that. The thing of it is that everybody will be trying to either win their first championship or win another one and will be after us. That gives them a lot of enthusiasm to do the same thing we did this year. We can't let our guard down at Joe Gibbs Racing. We got to keep moving forward and not sit still because that is what will get you behind."

ON HAVING THE TWO-CAR TEAM AND IF THAT HELPS WITH GOING AFTER THE REPEAT CHAMPIONSHIP
"I'd like to think so, yes. From my point of view, watching how the team operates week in and week out, there's no doubt that we have the confidence to do that. Unfortunately there are 40 some other teams that are doing the same thing. We've got our work cut out for us with competition but there's no doubt that with our race team and with how things are going today that we're definitely excited about the upcoming season."

ON HOW LONG HE HAS THOUGHT ABOUT BECOMING A WINSTON CUP CHAMPION
"Well, I guess since 1984 when Terry was the Winston Cup champion and I was working on a pit crew. I got to experience the win, but not as a driver, and I kept thinking that if I ever got the chance to drive that it would be great to experience what I got to experience with my brother. Throughout the Busch days and winning the Busch Grand National title in 1991, the thought is always in the back of your mind. But you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you can run. It's been a great trip. I've really enjoyed it. I've always kept it in the back of my mind. It's taken a lot of hard work and a lot of people along the way with a lot of patience."

ON ASKING HIS BROTHER FOR ADVICE ON ANYTHING
"Well, actually we did talk some but he didn't tell me what I needed to do. We're close enough and we've talked enough over the past years that I guess he thought that I was doing the right thing to a certain extent or he would have. I think the biggest part was just knowing that he was there if I needed any encouragement or needed anything. The advice he had given me was probably from a multitude of many years past that played in the role of how I race today and not how I had to handle today's event. I would rather go and talk to him and get advice on personal matters than on racing. He's a neat guy and we're a close family and we try and do things as good as we can. But as far as racing goes, I think it's all been laid in place for many years from him."

ON GETTING ANY INFORMATION FROM DALE JARRETT OR JEFF GORDON ON WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE NEXT YEAR
~"The things that they've told me is to make sure I get plenty of sleep, take a bottle of Chloroseptic with me and I'll be real busy. In a nutshell that's what they've said to me. I haven't really gone to them and asked for specifics. I think for the most part I've seen it from the sidelines and seen it in the past and having a close look at it being close behind in points. I'm sure I will go to them at some point in time but I just haven't yet."

ON WHEN THEY PLAN ON TESTING FOR NEXT SEASON
"The testing schedule for next year is like the latter part of the second week in January and we haven't scheduled our testing yet as far as a short track event or anything just yet. But our first official test will be at Daytona the second week in January."

ON WHAT THE JOE GIBBS TEAM DID DIFFERENTLY DURING THE 2000 SEASON TO GET TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEVEL
"Back in the off-season last year we just talked about the things that took us out of the championship hunt with Dale Jarrett last year. We narrowed it down to a few races that we weren't quite as competitive at and a few races that the driver made a few mistakes at and we just worked hard on those areas. From the year before to this year we had some consistency, just not enough as Dale Jarrett. So those races that we finished poorly we tried to make sure that didn't happen again -- a lot of hard work and being at the right place at the right time. Plus the testing we did throughout the season to try and get those tracks better acclimated for us played a big part of it."

ON THE ADVANTAGE OF HAVING TONY STEWART A PART OF THE TEAM AND VICE VERSA
"I know it has. Over the past couple of years when Tony came on with Joe Gibbs Racing it excelled our race team from like a sixth place points running car to a second place car. I know we sometimes go down different paths but we usually reach the same one by the time the end of the day is over with. We nitpick and try and find out what might be better at certain times and I think that's helped us out and has made us better. There's no doubt that the stability of our team has helped the '20' car out as far as they're last year rookie season to this year's sophomore season. We gave them stability in finishing races and being as competitive as they have been. There's no doubt that we've helped each other out and it's been a great experience."

ON HOW EXCITED HIS SON TYLER IS WITH WHATS GOING ON
"He is enjoying it. He's pretty busy with school and other activities but I know he loves it. He wants his own shirts and hats made up for him for next year. He's really gotten into racing this year. He's a big part of the racing family."

ON THE YOUTH MOVEMENT COMING INTO NASCAR WINSTON CUP
"I would say that is always happening. When I started racing the same thing was said then, and I think what happens today is that with the multi-car teams that our out there and back in 1995 there were only a handful. You know that when a guy comes on board to race he has a better opportunity now then he did before. The guys that come on with teams that are already established they have a lot of experience on their side and if their communication works that's great. I think that the youth movement is there but no different then it was a few years ago. There are a lot of young drivers out there though that are experienced and fast. They're going to be winning championships before it's over, too."

ON HIS IMPROVEMENTS AS A DRIVER
"I'm a little more calmer now then I was a few years ago. I try to be a lot more understanding with how the car feels because it just keeps getting harder with how the competition is to gain a half a second and trying to really fine-tune the car. So I'd say between the two has helped me improve."

ON HOW JIMMY MAKAR AND JOE GIBBS PLAYED A ROLL IN HIS IMPROVEMENTS
"A lot of course. I know Jimmy and my communication with each other is better then it ever has been. We get along great and we always talk about what we need in the race car. There are days that I tell him when I'm just not on it today and can't explain what's happening with the race car. We just try and work through that as well as possible. And Joe Gibbs with just the way he is has helped me be a better person over the past six years. Just being around great people makes you a better person and makes the team work well together."

JIMMY MAKAR, CREW CHIEF, INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
THOUGHTS ON BEING A WINSTON CUP CHAMPION CREW CHIEF
"I've been very fortunate to have been involved with a team that's won a championship before. This one is really special because I was fortunate to be here in the beginning when Joe (Gibbs) formed the team back in 1991 and I've been able to watch the team grow. It's been a neat thing to see day in and day out and then to get to the point of being a part of a championship. It's been a long, hard road. It's been a lot of fun, but there's been a lot of highs and a lot of lows. But it's definitely been worth it."

ON REPEATING THE CHAMPIONSHIP
"I certainly think the two-car team has helped us here in 2000. It just gives us that much more to draw from as far as experience and opportunities to try different things. I think it's a great advantage to have that ability. The fact that we were able to put together a second car team as competitive as it is an asset. We can draw from them and they can draw from us. It's a two way street. It's not a situation that one team is that much head and shoulders above the other and all the information goes one way. Here we go both ways. We help Tony and Greg and vise versa. That's really encouraging to me, to be able to do that with a teammate.

"As far as repeating next year, I think we need to go into it like we did the 2000 season. We knew we had the capabilities and had what it took to get there but nobody knows. You just don't know what's going to happen. It's kind of exciting to know that we do have those challenges ahead of us but I certainly think that this team is ready to go into next year and be in the hunt for the championship. And that's all you can ask for is to be in position. I look forward to being there next year."

WHAT DRIVING CHARACTERISTICS DOES BOBBY POSSESS THAT HAS MADE HIM BECOME A CHAMPION
"I think all of his driving skills have improved over the course of the last six years. He's become a total driver and does most of the things correctly that he needs to do. I think patience is a very big part of what has made him a champion. It's hard to have on the racetrack when things aren't going the way you want them to and you try and force issues and I think Bobby has learned that it takes patience. He's less excitable in the race car over situations when they occur. I think that's the mark of a true champion -- when adversity hits and to be able to handle it the way you need, too."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing