Darlington Ponniac Friday Notes

NOTES AND QUOTES Bobby Labonte Injury Darlington Raceway March 19, 1999 Note: Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix driver Bobby Labonte broke the tip of his right scapula in a Busch Series practice crash this morning. Labonte plans to ...

NOTES AND QUOTES Bobby Labonte Injury Darlington Raceway March 19, 1999

Note: Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix driver Bobby Labonte broke the tip of his right scapula in a Busch Series practice crash this morning. Labonte plans to start Sunday's TranSouth Financial 400 at Darlington and then hand over the driver reins to Matt Kenseth. Labonte is second in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "I broke the tip off my scapula, the right shoulder blade. Now I've got a pair that match (he broke the left one here in 1995). There was some fluid off of turn four the lap before I crashed and I was down low and somebody was leaking fluid on the race track. I got down in it and the thing just never turned. I was thinking after the hit it was the same thing (scapula). If you can't move your arm that's usually what it is. Having gone through it before I figured that's what it was this time. I didn't need anything else to go along with it, and fortunately, at the hospital they confirmed that there wasn't anything else. I'm sure tomorrow I'll hurt a lot worse than I am right now because I've got enough stuff in me right now probably where I don 't feel much pain. I can't foresee not running at least a lap. I might run a very slow lap, but I've got to run one lap. Matts going to drive it, I guess, and I'll l just run a lap Sunday. I feel a lot better than I did (after the accident). My neck feels better than I thought it would. It actually feels pretty good. The shoulder blade is the only thing that's actually killing me right now. The front end of the car just took off and it never turned. I locked it up with my foot on the brake and it never turned and it felt like it hit as hard as I've hit anything in my life. Then I got beat up by Muhammad Ali the rest of the way. It was just sheer pain right there for a few minutes. That's the way the rules are (accumulating points). You've got to do it. If I'mm walking, I've got to. Theres no ifs, ands or buts about it. That's what you've got to do. I'll want to do more, but the first thing is that I've got to make one lap. After that we'll see how it goes." JIMMY MAKAR, crew chief (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "It takes a little bit of wind out of our sails. The first concern was his health, and that's first and foremost in all of our minds, even before points and everything else. He matters more to us than anything. It's been a pretty hectic morning. We had to work real hard on trying to figure out what we were going to do. You've got to think worse case scenario -- what if he can't drive? It;s been a hectic morning figuring out who we were going to put in the car. We were real fortunate to get Matt to come over here. If Bobby;s able to drive that lap Sunday it would help us a bunch because right now Matt is working on a five-race deal with another sponsor. We don't want to jeopardize that. As out of it as he was and hurting as he was in the infield care center, Bobby asked me, "Who are you going to get?" I said, "I've got to think about this." I started naming names and he said, "Get Matt, get Matt. He'd do us a good job.

"Labontes are tough. But you can only be so tough. When you've got something broke and it hurts you, it's going to be tough for him. One positive thing is that we've been through this with him before. We know what to expect with his limitations and things. That's better than never having been through this before. In '95 he got T-boned here by another car on the backstretch. He broke his scapula on the left side though that time. We had to go on to Bristol and David Green qualified fi fth for us. Bobby got in the car to start the race and was going to go to the first caution flag, which at Bristol we figured would be 20 or 30 laps. It wound up going like 110 laps before we got a caution. He had to sit in the car for 110 laps and he did a great job. he told me he probably could have gone farther because once he got settled in it wasn't as bad as he thought it was."

JOE GIBBS, owner (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix): "We've got a tough situation. Its amazing. The last time Bobby got hurt it was here, our first year with him. We're hoping it's not too bad. First and foremost is his health. We'll have to see how he feels. I think our guys understand. They're all experienced. We'll have to make the best of it and work ourselves through this. This is part of what you have to do in this sport and it can happen to you. Actually, I wasn't even going to be here today. I was going to be at the drag races in Gainesville, but I got a page this morning and got the news."

NOTES AND QUOTES Bud Pole Qualifying Darlington Raceway March 19, 1999

JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 STP Pontiac Grand Prix): "If I could get through three and four as well as I get through one and two I'd be in good shape. I was better when the start/finish line was on the other side. I can't do that corner to save my life. I'm happy with that because as long as we start in the top-10 it gives us a shot in the race. Hopefully, by qualifying up front that will allow us to stay out of some things. Qualifying doesn't affect Jeff Burton here, but then again, it never has."

TONY STEWART (No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac Grand Prix):  "It's unfortunate
for Bobby.  It's tough to see him when he's been running as well as he
has.  To be second in points with the tough finish at Daytona shows how
strong he's been running these last three races.  I feel bad for him
because I know this isn't what he wants at all.  He's in good spirits and
I'm proud of him for that.  I'm sure he'll still be a big help to us this
weekend.  I'm really happy with our run.  I didn't think we could run that
fast.  I'm definitely happy with where we're at right now."
MATT KENSETH (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix):  "I think I
left a little bit out there.  This team asked me if I would help them out
and I'm glad I can.  I hate it's under these circumstances."
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac Grand Prix):  "I'm just real
disappointed.  We left a lot out there.  We're definitely better than
that.  We left a lot out there."

ERNIE IRVAN (No. 36 M&M's Pontiac Grand Prix): "Hey, that's better than we were in practice. A lot better. But you know, it's still not good enough."

DERRIKE COPE (No. 30 Bryan Pontiac Grand Prix): "The car was a little free and I was definitely loose going into turn one. That scuffed some speed off it right there. Last week this team pulled together when we had a top time in first round qualifying and we wound up 27th. Hopefully, we can do that again."

BUCKSHOT JONES (No. 00 Crown Fiber Pontiac Grand Prix): "I feel a lot better physically. I'm a little weak, if anything. Heck, I lost about four of five pounds last Sunday. I've been trying to eat and drink as much Gatorade and water as possible. The car was a lot better in qualifying than it was in practice. It's still not as good as we want to be. We'll see how we run tomorrow to see if we go back out tomorrow or not."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , David Green