Chicagoland: Bobby Labonte preview

Labonte Sees Change Today Current Petty Driver Sees Difference in Program This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the ...

Labonte Sees Change Today
Current Petty Driver Sees Difference in Program

This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head to the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, in the city of Joliet (Ill.) for Sunday's USG Sheetrock 400. Sunday's race is the 19th race of the season with only seven races left before the start of the championship chase.

Labonte sits 20th in championship points heading to Joliet. Labonte is only 176 points out of the 15th position and is locked in a tight point's battle with Greg Biffle, J.J. Yeley, Mark Martin and Casey Mears for that position. Labonte and Martin are the only two drivers in the group to have started every race (six) at Chicagoland.

Labonte had success with Petty Enterprises at Chicagoland last year. The team started sixth, Labonte's best start at the track, and finished 12th. The finish was also Labonte's best at the track. Labonte has completed over 90% of the laps he's run at the track.

Comments from Labonte as he prepares for this weekend's USG Sheetrock 400:

"You are either coming out of Daytona feeling really good or feeling disappointed. It's not a whole lot different from what you feel like leaving Daytona in February. We have mixed feelings right now. We had a good car at Daytona, that made us feel pretty good, but the bad luck had us frustrated. That's why we're ready to get to Chicago this weekend. We want to get back to the track and start working on something good again.

"Chicagoland is a mile-and-half track that puts us right back to our aerodynamic program. We had a good car at Chicagoland last year. We know how to do it, but things have continued to change. We have had more wind tunnel time and more research and development put into our cars. Michigan, we struggled there, but we tested Kentucky and have made some improvements since then. You can only go to the track to find out how much gain you've made against everyone else.

"We have had fast cars at the intermediate tracks. Last year was my first year at Petty Enterprises, but I saw the work that Richard (Petty), Kyle (Petty), Robbie (Loomis) and the guys in the shop put into the cars and the entire program to get things better. We saw the benefits of that. Now, it's figuring out the next step so that we can win races and be consistently in the top-10.

"Everyone knows the cars are going to change next year, but we still need to bring good cars to the track. The process of running up front won't change. That's the difference we are working on right now. We have made big steps. The steps are now smaller, but they are that much harder. Robbie (Loomis) has everyone at the shop focused on details and getting there. I think we all want it to happen tomorrow, but it's going to take a little time.

"We are headed in the right path. We had our problems at Michigan, but we were testing in Kentucky right after that. That test, we learned some things for this weekend. We don't expect to do the same things twice. This Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team is smarter than that. That's why we want to get to Chicagoland. We want to feel good leaving there."

-credit: pe

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Greg Biffle , J.J. Yeley , Mark Martin