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Labonte Heads To California Better Than Before Better Start To Season Has Team Looking Ahead To California This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the ...

Labonte Heads To California Better Than Before
Better Start To Season Has Team Looking Ahead To California

This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head to the two-mile California Speedway, located in the city of Fontana, for Sunday's Auto Club 500. It's the first race of the season where teams will not have to worry about a 'plate' on their engine. In many cases teams feel like this is when the 'real' race season starts.

Labonte and his Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head to California in a much better points position than a season ago. Last season Labonte and the team left Daytona with a wrecked car and a 35th points position. Today, they go west with 100 points earned and sit 21st. Labonte will be making his 14th start this weekend at the California Speedway. He has five top-five and four top-10 finishes at the track. He has one pole in 2001 at the track.

Comments from Labonte as he prepares for this weekend's Auto Club 500:

Are you in a good position heading to California?

"Well, we rolled across the finish line at Daytona on all fours, didn't wreck the car all day, didn't have any problems with inspections and we're sitting better in points than last year. I think we're off to a descent start. We are, at the least, in a better position than a lot of other guys. But, we did a lot of work in Daytona and a lot of work to prepare for Daytona.

"It's now time to get to California and see what we have here. It's a different set of circumstances than Daytona. We're back to aerodynamics and things like that. We'll see what we have when we unload Friday and go from there. We want to be better than what we were last season. We want to keep moving forward."

Is it hard to adjust after spending so much time in Daytona?

"This season is going to be about adjustment. We have the new 'Car of Tomorrow' that we'll race, our Dodge Charger has a new nose, the 'Car of Tomorrow' is an Avenger. There is just going to be a lot of adjustments and new things happening this season. You just have to roll with all of it. We spend a lot of time to prepare for Daytona, but that's our biggest race.

"Now it's time to get to California and get into the rest of the season. A lot of things happened at Daytona, but everyone is going to forget about it once something else happens. We'll have more stories at California and Vegas. You have Bristol coming up too with the 'Car of Tomorrow' debut. Who knows what we'll be talking about then?"

Does California have a good place in the schedule?

"It's fine.  It's a quick turn around for the guys at
the shop to get back home and out west.  That makes it tough for the
guys, but you have to race somewhere after Daytona.  The weather is
usually pretty nice out there.  That's always a positive.

"I think we have to look at what we did in Daytona. We got our season off to a start and now we can get into the 'swing of things' for the rest of the year. There isn't a ton of time to get all that practice in California like we had at Daytona. Everyone has to be prepared for the challenges and we need to make the best out of these races. We want to climb up the ladder from where we started."

-credit: petty racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte