Daytona 500: GM Media Day - Terry Labonte

February 5, 2004: Highlights of Driver Q&A Sessions with the Media at Daytona International Speedway. TERRY LABONTE , NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: WILL THE NEW TIRES FAVOR A VETERAN DRIVER? "Nope, not at all. Well, you know what?...

February 5, 2004: Highlights of Driver Q&A Sessions with the Media at Daytona International Speedway.

TERRY LABONTE , NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

WILL THE NEW TIRES FAVOR A VETERAN DRIVER? "Nope, not at all. Well, you know what? When they went to hard tires they said this was going to favor veteran drivers, and now when they go to the soft tire they say the same thing. I don't think it makes any difference really. If the car works good, it works good. If it doesn't, it doesn't.

NASCAR COO Mike Helton and Terry Labonte.
Photo by Daytona International Speedway.
"I honestly don't think it gives the veteran drivers an edge. I hope it does, but I don't think it does. We have a good team. They've worked hard building cars for this year and we've got all the same people back. I think that's the biggest thing we've got going for us. We've got some areas to work on to be better at, but we feel good about our chances going into the season."

HOW DO THE TIRES AFFECT THE AERO? "With the harder tires, you depend more on aero than you ever have before. When you lose a little bit of aero, you lose some grip. Now the softer tires could possibly help that situation."

ON THE UPCOMING SEASON "Everybody is excited about the upcoming season. The teams have worked hard to get ready for the Daytona 500. It's the biggest race of our year. It's kind of strange that it's the first race, but it's also the first race. A lot of things are different. When you come to Daytona each year, people have new rides and new sponsors and new paint jobs and everybody is hoping to get off to a good start.

"We went through a stretch there when our team wasn't very good. But we worked hard and made changes and finally got it back going in the right direction. That's nice to see it going the way it's supposed to go."

WITH THE NEW POINTS, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET OFF TO A GOOD START? "I don't think it changes how you race. You don't approach the race any differently than you normally do. You always go out to do your best. One thing that we've done differently is that we haven't tested because we want to save our test days for later in the year. Hopefully we're going to make it to the top 10 and then we're going to use them for those last events. Or, if we need to test to try to get into the top 10, then we'll use them at that point in the year. We're trying to get started without using any test dates until later in the year when we need them."

HOW HAS YOUR JOB AS A DRIVER CHANGED OVER THE YEARS? "It's changed tremendously. When I first started racing, there weren't sponsors or hospitality things to do to on Sunday mornings. These things are all part of the sport and it's growth. More sponsors are involved and that's the biggest change. Our job on the race track hasn't changed much. It was nice to have a little bit of a break because the racing part is the easiest part of your job. The other stuff is the difficult stuff. I've been fortunate because I raced a big part of my career before all this started. I don't think you'll see people race as long as I've raced because the people are going to get burned out a lot earlier now because of all the commitments. We didn't have that for a long time."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Mike Helton