Darlington II: Terry Labonte qualifying press conference

TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/got milk? CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Qualified 3rd: TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN. "It was a good run for us. Our car was good off the truck and we had some pretty good practice runs. We made about three runs and then made...

TERRY LABONTE, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/got milk? CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: Qualified 3rd:

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN.

"It was a good run for us. Our car was good off the truck and we had some pretty good practice runs. We made about three runs and then made a practice qualifying run. We made some more adjustments and got it ready to qualify. It's just typical Darlington. You make two or three runs and hope you can get it right before qualifying."

IF YOU WERE TALKING TO A ROOKIE, WHAT DO YOU SAY TO MAKE HIM LEARN HOW HARD THIS PLACE IS TO DRIVE?

"I don't know. I haven't talked to a rookie in a long time. When I was a rookie and came here the first time, it's changed a lot since then. You used to have to pass a rookie test and there was a rookie meeting and all this. I never will forget.I went in this little room there and Cale Yarborough was in there along with four or five of us that were rookies. I was driving Billy Hagan's car. They had made a video of the previous Southern 500, the highlights of all the things not to do. The car I was driving was the highlight of the video. At the time, I decided the biggest goal was not to make next year's video. It's a place where if you run 500 miles, if you run the whole race and don't hit the wall, you're pretty lucky. It's pretty easy to get in trouble here."

DOES IT MATTER TO YOU WHEN YOU RUN DARLINGTON, OR DOES CHANGING THE DATE TAKE SOME OF THE TRADITION AWAY?

"Yeah, I think it takes tradition away from Darlington, the Southern 500. It's the oldest track and this race has been here for a long time. This is how it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be hot and the track's slick and everything. This is a perfect Darlington weekend. I'm one of the ones that hates to see it leave."

THERE WAS A CERTAIN CHARM AND MYSTIQUE ABOUT WINNING THE RACE ON LABOR DAY MONDAY. YOU DID IN 1980. TALK ABOUT THAT.

"For years we came down here and the race was on Monday. We'd come down here on Thursday and race on Monday. Everybody would have Sunday off, the garage wasn't even open. That was a little different. Then they switched it to Sunday, and that was OK. It's going to seem different coming down here in November. It's just a race that a lot of times, if you stay out of trouble you'll have a good finish. The first race I ran here, we finished fourth. I remember riding around and I couldn't believe all the cars that got torn up during the race. Some of them take care of themselves. The key to finishing well here is first you have to finish. It really isn't much different today. It's still a tough track, the cars go awful fast and the track's awful slick. It's easy to get caught up in somebody else's wreck."

YOUR SOUTHERN 500 VICTORY CAME AT THE EXPENSE OF DAVID PEARSON. THAT WAS CONSIDERED QUITE AN UPSET AT THE TIME.

"We were coming for the white flag and headed into Turn 1 and we hit oil. I was running third or fourth, and David hit the wall and I think Benny Parsons, myself and Earnhardt, we got through. Benny hit the wall too. I got by Earnhardt and I beat David back off Turn 4 to take the white and the caution."

ARE THE PATCHES IN THE TURNS ALL RIGHT?

"It's pretty rough. It was pretty rough before and the patch is just as rough as it was. I'm not sure exactly why they patched it."

DOES THIS SURFACE MAKE THE CAR FEEL LIKE IT'S SKATING ON ICE?

"If you're running more than one lap, it feels that way. The track, the asphalt, is just real porous and it really wears the tires. You slide a lot on it. Tire wear is as bad as any place we go, and it's due to the asphalt and the condition that it's in. But it's been that way for a long time. I don't think they can make a tire that wouldn't fall off. It's just like running a cheese grater over that tire."

DOES THE FACT THAT THIS TRACK EATS TIRES CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY?

"We talked about that before we ever went out on the track. I said, 'well, one thing about it, we don't have to worry about whether to get two tires, four tires, just gas, whatever. You're going to get four every time here.' That's the way it should be. You can throw all that other stuff out the window that takes place 90 percent of the time anymore."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Benny Parsons , Billy Hagan , Cale Yarborough