BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: FINISHED THIRD IN THE RAIN-SHORTENED COCA-COLA 600: "We spent all night working on the car, and like Fatback (crew chief Michael McSwain) said, we tickled the car a lot but we never...
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: FINISHED THIRD IN THE RAIN-SHORTENED COCA-COLA 600: "We spent all night working on the car, and like Fatback (crew chief Michael McSwain) said, we tickled the car a lot but we never got it just right. It was better after about 20 laps, and it would give up the last 10 laps of the run. It was just close, and we never could get it any better. It would have been nice to have gone out. there and run some more, but third place isn't bad to end up the night, but we would have liked to have the chance to go out and run again. Who knows, something else might have happened and we might have been worse. That's the chance you have to take. It was still good, the car was great, the pit stops were good. We led some laps, got the halfway deal and just missed it at the end. I did break my second-place streak, though.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE MAGIC YOU AND YOUR TEAM HAVE HERE: "It's really good. Sometimes, it takes me half the race to get a good groove going here. Not that it's bad to start with, but it kind of gets better as the race goes on. We come to this racetrack, obviously we're confident given the track record this team has here. We have a lot of top-fives, a couple of wins, top-10s. It's just one of those places you go to, even if we're far off we're still going to be pretty good. Last year, we didn't have a good year, but we came to Charlotte and ran well both times. We had a problem on pit road and got a lap down, and in the second race, we finished second right behind Jamie McMurray. We had a dismal year everywhere else, but we came here and finished second and had a good run going in the first race. It's a good racetrack for us, I love it, have fun here and it's fun to go fast."
WAS YOUR CAR AS GOOD AT THE END OF THE RACE AS IT WAS IN THE MIDDLE WHEN YOU LED ALL THOSE LAPS? "I think it was almost as good. In the middle, we got a little gift there, obviously, when we didn't pit and a lot of guys were a lap down when the 21 car stopped in the grass there. It was pretty good then, pretty good right before that happened, and pretty good after. The 48 came on strong, the 17 and 97 got their lap back, the 97 had a problem, the 17 didn't. We got by the 24 and then traffic came and we got in front of him, which was better for our car. It wasn't much different, but we just couldn't be a tenth or two better than anyone, but we weren't a tenth or two worse."
CONSISTENCY WAS ONE OF THE KEYS IN WINNING YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP. ARE YOU FINDING THAT CONSISTENCY WITH THIS SOLID EFFORT HERE? "I think so. We've had a great record with all our guys. It's not about one thing. It's not about the driver, it's about everything there, the crew, the car, the chassis, the bodies, the engines, the communications. The guys who work on this race car really take care of the stuff, make sure that everything stays on it and we're on top of it. That's what happened in 2000. We were consistent, and we didn't have any problems. We didn't have as muh bad luck that year as we've already had this year. These last four races, where we finished second, second, second and third, that's pretty darn consistent and you can't beat that except by a couple more spots. I'm really happy for all the guys, and it's a lot of fun to come to the racetrack knowing you have a competitive race car and you can run up front and have a chance to win."
HAVE YOU JELLED WITH FATBACK AS QUICKLY AS YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD? "I think it's worked out very well, better than I anticipated. Prior to October of last year, we had dinner together, but we never worked on the race car together. I felt real comfortable then, but it's always those little things that we seem to find that make us better and it's the communication that we have and the confidence we have in each other. I think that's going strong, and as long as we don't lose that, we'll keep on our toes that way."
MATT KENSETH WAS VERY OUTSPOKEN ABOUT ENDING THIS RACE SO EARLY. ANY COMMENT FROM YOUR STANDPOINT? "I've seen NASCAR work their hind ends off and spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of jet fuel to dry tracks off. They try their best to get it in, no matter what. I was in the truck, wondering about what we were going to do when we went back racing, and then they said they'd called the race. It was kind of surprising to me, but I'm not in their shoes and I don't make those decisions. Obviously, we would have liked to have gone back racing, and we'll never know now."
TONY (STEWART) HAD SOME ENGINE PROBLEMS HERE LATELY AND YOU HAD SOME EARLY IN THE YEAR. WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE ENGINE SHOP? "I know the problems he's had in the past, at least two of them at Texas and California, were the same, related things. Those guys are working, not 24/7 but close to it because there are two shifts going on. It's not for lack of effort. What happened tonight wasn't the same thing that happened and Texas and California. What happened tonight was a part failure. They actually fixed it and went back out. They went through a different scenario and they found it later. If they had found it first, they probably wouldn't have lost a lap. It's unfortunate for him that he's had that. We've been on a better side of it this year, and I've been on that side before. Two years ago, I blew up five times and he didn't blow up at all. That's just they way it is. You can't say anything other than the guys are working hard and it's not from lack of effort. Sometimes it's from things you can't always have in your control."