Charlotte II: Michael McSwain press conference

Winston Teleconference Oct. 7, 2003 Bobby Labonte and Michael McSwain MICHAEL McSWAIN , CREW CHIEF: TALK A LITTLE ABOUT CHARLOTTE, A NIGHT RACE AND WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE A CAR GO FAST. "Well, Charlotte in the daytime poses different ...

Winston Teleconference
Oct. 7, 2003
Bobby Labonte and Michael McSwain


TALK A LITTLE ABOUT CHARLOTTE, A NIGHT RACE AND WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE A CAR GO FAST. "Well, Charlotte in the daytime poses different problems. It's one of the most sensitive tracks to temperature change of anywhere we go. You add the night time into that, and you see an even larger-scale temperature change over the course of a race. We build a lot of adjustability into our cars, we'll try a lot of things in practice to give us a sense of direction. The last time we were there for the 600 we probably did more adjustments to see what we could do during the race to see the response than we did anything. That's the biggest thing about Charlotte is being prepared for the temperature change."

ARE YOU AND BOBBY STILL COMMUNICATING WELL? "Yeah. We kind of fooled ourselves and everybody else at the beginning of the year because we came out of the box running so well and everything was going like clockwork. It looked like we'd been communicating like we'd been working together for 20 years. But then we ran through some stumbling stones and that's when it showed that we were still new to each other, trying to learn what he was saying and what I'm thinking. We've grown through the summer months. We had to buckle down and understand what each other was trying to say, and it seemed like it was very easy at the beginning of the year and we hit some stumbling blocks through the midseason. I think everything is going in the right direction. We had an issue here or there with the engines, a header deal and fuel mileage. For the most part, we've been pretty much pleased and we're heading in the right direction."

HOW WOULD YOU HANDLE PEOPLE ACCUSING YOU OF CHEATING? "It's something you have to deal with when you run well or you're successful or when you haul butt. Everyone said Evernham and Mike and the 9 car crew were cheating at Kansas, but I've been there when everything just clicks right. As long as people are talking about you, it doesn't matter if it's good or bad. They're just talking about you."

CREW CHIEFS SAY THAT THEIR GAME PLANS ARE OFTEN ON THEIR HIP. DO YOU AGREE? "It's always from the hip. From practice to the race to 100 laps to go to 25 laps to go, it's always from the hip. Sometimes you make a right decision, sometimes you make a wrong decision and sometimes you make a decision that's not either way. The best thing you can do is try to think all those things out the night before, and I promise you that you think them all out and something different will happen. It's a minute-by-minute scenario."

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR JOB? "That right there. Anyone who's been around our sport knows how close the relationships are that you build with the others in the group, whether it's news people or NASCAR or other teams or other drivers. We're our own little traveling circus. We spend more time with those folks than we do with most of our families. The camaraderie and the never-ending change of NASCAR that we always see with the way the races end up, it's fun."

ARE YOU HEARING ANYTHING ABOUT NASCAR BACKING DOWN ON THE NUMBER OF TEMPLATES FOR 2004? "I haven't heard anything. Would I be happy about it? Definitely, and so would my guys. As for 2004, we don't really have a shot at the championship this year but we're still trying to finish in the top five. We are still trying to win as many races as we can, but we are also doing some things to our cars for next year to head in that direction. We are tinkering with our balance a little now to head in the direction that we think we're going to be in for next year just to see what Bobby's response is and the adaptability of our team to still make it comfortable for him. We have to be careful; we don't want to go so far that we're not competitive each week. We're tinkering with it a little and we'll do a lot of testing this winter and we'll just try to be ready for it next year."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT MIGHT SOLVE THE RACING-BACK-TO-THE FLAG QUESTION? "They talked about it in the driver's meeting, and me and Bobby looked at each other and said, 'what happens if it is the last lap and you're side by side with a car for the win? Do you let up or keep going?' I promise you this: we'll have to screw up the wrong way to ever figure out how to fix it. That's bad, it's unfortunate and it's going to be unfortunate for someone. It could very well be our team. But it's no different than anything else in life, when you come across a really tough problem, nine times out of 10, before you can ever figure it out you have to do it the wrong way. It's going to happen for a win before we figure out how to fix it. I think there needs to be something in stone, whether it's reverting to the last completed lap. That's probably the best thing to do. It may not be the most fair, but in some instances it will be the most fair, and it will completely eliminate anyone attempting to race after the caution comes out. You just say, 'hey, when the caution comes out, you revert to the last completed lap.' It may not be fair. Maybe my car is second and drives up under the leader in Turn 1 and then before he gets back to the line, the caution comes out. I wouldn't feel like that's fair. But I also wouldn't feel like it was fair if we were leading and Bobby let out and somebody passed him, and then they couldn't figure out when the caution came out, before or after the pass. Until the day of GPS, when they can locate the car every second on the track, I think reverting back is probably the best way to do it. Of course, that's just my opinion."

Bobby Labonte press conference

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte