Fontana: Terry Labonte preview

TERRY LABONTE California Love CORNELIUS, NC (Feb. 21, 2005) -- One down, 35 to go. Or, if you're Hall of Fame Racing and the No. 96 DLP®HDTV Chevrolet, it's one down and six to go with Terry Labonte, 29 to go with Tony Raines. Labonte...

TERRY LABONTE
California Love

CORNELIUS, NC (Feb. 21, 2005) -- One down, 35 to go.

Or, if you're Hall of Fame Racing and the No. 96 DLP®HDTV Chevrolet, it's one down and six to go with Terry Labonte, 29 to go with Tony Raines. Labonte will drive at California, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol, before Raines takes over for the remainder of the season except for the road courses at Infineon and Watkins Glen. Make sense?

The circus now moves west to Fontana, California, where the 2-mile California Speedway has hosted NASCAR racing since 1997. And ever since 1997, California Speedway has been one of Terry Labonte's favorite tracks. He has four top-10 finishes in 10 races, including a second in 1997 and a third in 1998.

You have always driven pretty well at California, haven't you?

"We've usually run pretty good out there. I like the track, it's one of my favorite tracks. I don't know why, I just like the track. It's a good question. I don't know why I like it. It's one of those things were sometimes you go to a place and you go and run and you're like 'Man, I like this place,' and you go and you run good."

A lot of people say it is the Michigan of the west. Is it?

"No, it's different from Michigan. It's a lot different from Michigan, actually. The line, the groove is around the bottom, but it really widens out and there is plenty of room to race. It's a great facility."

What do you remember about the first race out there in 1997?

"I think the first race out there, Jeff (Gordon) won it, and we finished second. We had him beat, and we had a loose wheel and had to pit for four tires instead of two tires. He got two tires and he beat us. We felt like we had him beat, but the pit stop deal got us. We starting catching him but leveled off and finished second."

What do you remember about the facility as a new track in 1997?

"I couldn't believe how nice the facility was, but then on the other hand I could, because it was a new facility and (Roger) Penske had built it. They did a really, really nice job. It was a showplace, and it was in the middle of an industrial slum area at the time. Now the place is built up all around it."

What are your thoughts on California being the second race of the season?

"It's different, but it's a good change because the weather is usually pretty good out there, so it's not like it used to be going to Richmond or Rockingham when it was freezing and snowing and stuff like that. It's good to go out there."

How important is that race to the DLP team as they try to have a successful first year?

"For this team, every race is really important. Daytona was very important, California will be very important, because that will be a whole lot different than Daytona. It's a different type of race than a restrictor-plate race. So, I think that's really going to tell us a lot. Hopefully, we'll go out there and have a good car and I'd love to run good. It's kind of different because we didn't test there and having a new team, you know we'll only have a couple of hours of practice. Everyone knew it was going to be a challenge and be hard and coming from established teams (Hendrick and Gibbs), you forget how hard it can be, because there are so many details. But, for these guys, who didn't have a car three months ago, they've done a great job."

-hofr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte
Teams Hall of Fame Racing