Bristol: Bobby Labonte preview

Welcome To The Twilight Zone Labonte, Cheerios/Betty Crocker Team Head To The Unknown This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the ...

Welcome To The Twilight Zone
Labonte, Cheerios/Betty Crocker Team Head To The Unknown

This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head to the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday's Food City 500. Sunday's race will be NASCAR's first race in history with the Car of Tomorrow (COT). The Car of Tomorrow is a wider car with a splitter in the front and a wing mounted in the rear. It was developed for driver safety and to improve competition. The car will race on all tracks a mile or less in length this season. The car will also be used at both road courses.

Labonte will be making his 29th start at Bristol this weekend. He has three top-five finishes at the track including a fifth place finish in this race a year ago. It was the first top five for Labonte behind the wheel of the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge. Labonte has also recorded nine top-10 finishes and has led 60 laps at the track.

A strong start to the season, the team is currently 17th in championship points. It's the highest the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge has been in points at this point of the season since 1998. The Nextel Cup "Chase For The Championship" in 2007 will include the top 12 drivers. Labonte is currently only 34 points away from the 12th position.

Comments from Labonte as he prepares for this weekend's Food City 500:

"I think we're going into a little bit of the unknown this weekend. I think the jury is still out if this is the right direction we need to go in. It's like entering the 'Twilight Zone'. You just don't' know what you are getting into and where you could end up. This could be a great concept. It's definitely different.

"We are going to get a few races under our belt to figure out what we really have. It's still a car that we're not positive of all the actions and reactions to it. You hear a lot of guys in the garage area still talking a lot about it right now. There are some areas that guys do have concerns. Everyone just has to get to Bristol and race. We'll know more after that.

"I don't see this car making this more even for everyone. I don't really see that happening. I still see the larger teams getting a handle on it quicker than anyone else. It's just the way it is. It's the way it is right now and it's going to stay that way. If NASCAR had said, 'You can only have two car teams,' that would have been different. But, as long as you have four car teams competing against two car teams and two car teams against four car teams it's going to difficult for the two car teams.

"Still, we're heading to Bristol and we're in good position with this Cheerios team. Bristol is always going to be an exciting race. It doesn't matter what car we race. I think we're going to race that Car of Tomorrow, have a great race, and everyone is going to walk out of there thinking it's a great race. Bristol is probably the best place to start with for this car.

"We are going to race this new car three of four times pretty quick. We know Bristol will be a good race. We then go to Martinsville and Phoenix. I hope everyone has enough cars built. If you tear one of these cars up, from what I've seen, it's going to be very difficult to get the car fixed for the next race. It just takes too much time to get the cars to fit the templates if you need to repair one. Hopefully our Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodges will be up front and we won't have to worry about that.

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte