February 5, 2004: Highlights of Driver Q&A Sessions with the Media at Daytona International Speedway. BOBBY LABONTE , NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: WHAT WILL YOU MISS MOST ABOUT NOT HAVING JOE GIBBS AROUND? "We'll...
February 5, 2004: Highlights of Driver Q&A Sessions with the Media at Daytona International Speedway.
BOBBY LABONTE , NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
WHAT WILL YOU MISS MOST ABOUT NOT HAVING JOE GIBBS AROUND? "We'll probably lose some football stories, but we'll gain some in the next five years, too. I can't think of anything. Joe's always been there for me since I started racing for him. It's always exciting to have him there."
ON JGR WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 2000 - LABONTE - AND 2002 - STEWART "I think we have some great race teams. Both Tony and I are in great positions to be driving with Joe. We have great people working at Joe Gibbs Racing."
DO YOU REMEMBER COMING INTO A SEASON WITH THIS MUCH TO TALK ABOUT OTHER THAN JUST DRIVING? "It is a big deal. You could say it's good or you could say it's bad. It's different. You have to adapt to whatever's in front of you and go with it. There is a lot of change. Whether it's going to be good or going to be bad, we don't know. It could be a deal where we come down here next year and say, 'We didn't change a thing this year and it's O.K., too."
IT SEEMS LIKE THERE ARE ABOUT 25 GUYS THAT CAN WIN EACH WEEK. DOES THAT MAKE GETTING INTO THE TOP 10 EVEN MORE CHALLENGING? "I think what's different now is that we used to race 36 races and the top 10 was important, but you knew there wasn't going to be a sequence like this. Now it's important to be in the top 10 after 26 races. Before you wanted to be in the top 10 after 36 races. It kind of bumps your year up. You can't wait around until the end. You've got to be good up until race 26."
DOES THE STRATEGY CHANGE WHEN YOU HIT RACE3S 24, 25, AND 26? "You know, I don't know. It could very well. You have to play that as it comes. If you're 12th in points and you just won three races in a row before that and you've got momentum on your side, then do you change anything you've been doing? Or, if you're ninth in points and coming off of three DNF's, do you change something? I think it depends on the team and the track and what you've been doing the previous races."
DO YOU LIKE THE POINTS SYSTEM? "It is what it is. At the end of the year, everybody could be talking about something else. This could be great and it might not be. At the same time, it's just the way it is."
WERE THE DRIVERS CONSULTED? "I wasn't asked, I asked questions, but I wasn't asked. But, it doesn't matter. It's not in my job duty to do that. It's the way it is and in November, people might be saying, 'This is the greatest thing that ever happened.'"
DOES IT FEEL LIKE A WHOLE NEW NASCAR? "Nope, I still came through the same door. It's all the same, maybe just a little different color. No, not really. It's still the same NASCAR series that we raced in last year. It's just a lot of changes on the outside. It'd be like if somebody went and got some new clothes, they're still the same on the inside."
HAVE YOU CAUGHT YOURSELF SAYING WINSTON? "I did it once today. I got fined five bucks."
ON A TWO-CAR TEAM, WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE ON WHAT INFORMATION YOU SHARE? "We share everything. We don't draw a line. And, it really doesn't matter, because what may work for me, may not work for them. As far as drivers go, I may go down and see Tony if I'm not hitting my marks some day. And, he comes and sees me. We help each other that way."