Daytona 500: GM drivers race quotes

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: ON THE EARLY-RACE SPIN ON THE BACKSTRETCH "We had put two tires on it and got loose. We caught a bunch of cars. When we caught them, I went up to the outside. Some guys behind me...


ON THE EARLY-RACE SPIN ON THE BACKSTRETCH "We had put two tires on it and got loose. We caught a bunch of cars. When we caught them, I went up to the outside. Some guys behind me got the car loose, I guess, and spun around."

ON THE SECOND INCIDENT "The wreck happened out there in front of us. I saw the '12' car flipping. We came down pit road, and got down to the end of pit road, and I was to the inside of a few cars that were down there. I had already told the guys that it looked like I made it through there, and the 49 car came sliding across. I don't know, he was in the wreck I guess and probably didn't have any brakes or steering, and I centered him."


"We had a great car today.  This is better than what we finished last year
here.  I think I had a

fast enough car and Kevin (Harvick) had a fast enough car, and I tried to work with him a lot there and we moved up through the field. Tony Stewart was also fast behind us. It looked like guys were getting tight and that's how we were able to get cars on the outside late in the run, but the biggest thing was staying on the bottom.

"The Cingular team is really happy with our finish today. It was pretty hairy out there so we're glad the car is in one piece. I just wish we'd had a little more time because I think Kevin and I could've made a move for the lead and one of us won the race. But we showed that the Cingular team is strong and we've worked out all of the kinks from last season. It looks like RCR is back. We just need to keep running like this the rest of the year."


ABOUT YOUR FIRST DAYTONA 500. "I learned a lot. It's a shame we lost a lap early

on. We had a small problem and I had to come in under green, but still I'm very thankful to Andy (Petree) and Monaco Coaches for giving me this chance. I wish another Daytona 500 could start all over again tomorrow."

YOU'VE GOT A BUSY SEASON AHEAD OF YOU WITH DIFFERENT OPPORTUNITIES WITH PETTY ENTERPRISES. WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITY IS IT FOR YOU TO GET A CHANCE TO RACE IN STOCK CARS WITH ONE OF THE GREAT TEAMS OF ALL-TIME? "It's very nice to be together with those guys. I'm pretty sure that I will be able to learn a lot. With what I did in my past racing, there's a lot that I can bring over with me, but there's a lot that's completely new to me and I have to learn. I'm competing against guys that have been doing this for 15, 20 years, so I'll try and cut that down as quick as possible and try to be really competitive. Sometimes it's hard, but we did a decent job today and kept the car in one piece."


"We had a fast race car, and the longer we ran the better we were, the better the handling, the

further to the front we could get. I tried to make a move to get up to my teammate Jimmy Johnson so we could push one another, but guys didn't want to go with me. But you don't expect them to - I made a move, it didn't work out and I fell back to 12th."

WAS IT FRUSTRATING TO NOT HAVE SOMEBODY GO WITH YOU IN LINE AND HANG YOU OUT? "Yea, everybody protected the bottom all day long. I didn't want to push Michael (Waltrip) past Jimmy (Johnson). I wanted to get behind Jimmy and run with him. I felt the momentum change when Michael was coming back and I had a head of steam, and I thought I could get all the way by him, but they had a strong race car and then Tony (Stewart) and all of the rest of the guys went to the bottom and he went right by me, so I battled to get back to 12th."


WHAT HAPPENED? "I just blew a right rear tire right in the middle of the corner. We really got our car a lot better. We were really way off. I don't know why we were that way. We were so tight the car wouldn't turn in the corner. It wasn't that way all week long.

"We got a lot better. Mike [Beam] did a great job of adjusting. We were coming up through there, but we can't do it on three tires.

"I guess it just wasn't meant to be. The good thing is we're going to Rockingham, where I can pass by myself and not have to have a buddy to help me, so we're looking forward to next week."


FROM MOTOR RACING NETWORK...HOW WAS YOUR PIT STRATEGY WORKING TODAY? "We were just doing what we could to stay up front and keep the car handling good - kind of like yesterday in the Busch Race. I was pretty happy with the track position we had. We were just going to try to keep track position all day and not really get messed around by getting there in the back.

"I'm telling you, though, even when I was a couple laps down (due to a battery problem), I could go right to the front. My car was really, really good."


"The competitor in me wants to have it go back to green, but obviously that is not going to happen. The GM Goodwrench guys did a great job. We came from dead last and all the way to the front. It's a great start to our year.

"I really think we had the car to win the Daytona 500. We were that close to clearing him, but that's just the way it works here. But, it's a great day for us. We'll take it, after tearing our car up in the 125, and go on with it."

ON HAVING TO COME FROM THE BACK OF THE PACK AFTER A PRE-RACE ENGINE CHANGE) "The car was fast enough to where it would come right from the back of the pack. It's still hard to get through the pack, though. We got up there and then Kurt Busch slid through our pits again. We got back in the middle again and then worked our way back up there. It's been a great day. We kept all the fenders on it. The guys did a great job repairing the car after Thursday's mishap. It actually came back and ran great."

IF IT HAD COME DOWN TO YOU VERSUS A DEI CAR, DO YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE GOTTEN TO THE POINT? "It's hard to say. The DEI cars were good. The RCR cars were good. I guess we'll just have to take our little superspeedway battle to Talladega."

WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE '97' IN THE PITS TODAY? "He came in there, hot as usual. I don't know what happened, but he was sitting in my pit and I was sitting on pit road stopped. That's about the third time (he's done that). Then, he about ran over our jack guy, running through our pit stall and ran over our jack. They just need to put a restrictor plate on his foot because obviously his foot doesn't register with his brain."

ON STARTING THE SEASON WITH A TOP FIVE "It's great. Last year we started with a a 40th or a 41st or whatever it was. To rebound after Thursday and have a good finish today I say, the competitor in me wishes it would have run all the way because I think we had a chance at winning the race. But, the smart guy in all of us wants to just take a fourth place and roll on with it."


ARE YOU HAPPY WITH A FOURTH AND A SIXTH TODAY? "Yeah. It's like Kevin said. The competitor in us wants to start back (and race) because we know we've got good cars. But, then on the other hand, a lot of things can happen at Daytona."


"Well, we aren't thrilled, but to walk out of here 19th with all the obstacles we have overcome this week is pretty cool -- not too bad a run for the backup Valvoline Pontiac. We've been down here before and run well and then been wrecked, so leaving this place with an undented car is an accomplishment for us. James and the guys will go back to work Monday or Tuesday or whenever we get home and start working even more on our superspeedway program. Now, we have to figure out how we can get back to North Carolina since the storm closed the airports. Sounds like we are going to miss the Daytona weather.

"I'm glad Mikey won. I don't think me and [Ken] Schrader will ever get a word in on our show Monday."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE STRANDED DOWN HERE TONIGHT WITH A WINTER STORM HITTING CHARLOTTE RIGHT NOW? "We're all a little stranded right now. I'm not sure if the big airport (Charlotte Douglas International) is closed or not. But, for us flying the private deal, we're probably better off waiting until tomorrow."


"Our Home Depot Monte Carlo was good. It was just a matter of making sure that you knew who to run with and who not to run with. We were up there where we wanted to be. We just wanted to wait until a little closer to the end to get racey.

ON COMING OUT OF HERE SEVENTH "It's our best Daytona 500 finish, so I'm excited about that. But, we ran in the top three all day and led at one time. We had a better car than a seventh place car today. Part of me is really happy and excited, considering where we were at this time last year. But, at the same time, a little bit on the sad side knowing that we should have finished better than this."


YOU WERE RUNNING IN THE TOP FIVE AND LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A REALLY GOOD CAR TODAY. BUT YOU HAD A MISHAP ON PIT ROAD, WHAT HAPPENED? "It was unfortunate what happened today. I'll tell you what -- the U.S. Army car ran great today. The Pontiac Grand Prix was superb. Everybody in the pits did a super job. We were running fifth and came in for a pit stop. We got blocked in by Kurt Busch. I backed up and couldn't get it back into first. Then, he backed up and it was just a whole mess from there. When I finally got back onto pit road I got into Mike Skinner and tore a fender up. We came back in and fixed it.

"I hate it for all of my guys. But, we'll just take it and go to Rockingham next week and try to win there. I am excited to be with this team. It's a great team, a solid team. With the U.S. Army backing us and Pontiac, I think it's going to be a superb team this year."

-gm racing-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Mike Skinner , Kurt Busch