BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: "It was pretty fast. It was good. We rolled off the truck today - the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was good from the first lap on. We just had to tweak on it today and we did...
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:
"It was pretty fast. It was good. We rolled off the truck today - the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was good from the first lap on. We just had to tweak on it today and we did that about two or three times. We made a couple of adjustments before qualifying and the car was really good.
"It took the first lap to get going because, to me, the tires were cold. But, I'm really pleased with the way the lap was. It was just a good fast lap. I knew it was a good lap. I just didn't know how fast."
DOES THIS HELP GET THE TEAM PUMPED UP FOR SUNDAY? "It really does. When we came out here to test we never made any qualifying runs out here during the test. We just practiced race stuff because I don't consider myself a very good driver here at this track because I can never really seem to be as smooth as I need to be. But, we worked on it a lot and that probably helped out a lot for today. Hopefully, it will carry on until tomorrow."
HOW DID THE RAIN DELAY AFFECT YOUR SCHEDULE TODAY? "I got a few things done that I probably wouldn't have gotten to if we were practicing. But, I did have an appearance tonight. Me and Ricky Rudd had a Coca Cola appearance, so we're not going to be able to make that now, so it did affect us a little bit. Obviously, I'm glad we got qualifying in because we were going to start 17th or 18th if we hadn't. I felt like after practice that we had a good enough race car to start better than that. We kept working on it, and making it better and better, so I was glad that the rain didn't come back in and held off for us to go qualify. So, it did screw up the day in some ways, but it helped us out a lot, too."
ON BOTH HE AND TONY STEWART QUALIFYING IN THE TOP 10 "We both tested out here in January. He was better than I was in race trim, so I had to really count on him a lot because his car was better than mine was and has been the past two or three years here, so I was kind of leaning on him a little bit trying to figure out what I was doing wrong and try to get my car better - watching his driving style, looking at computer data - stuff like that."
ON GETTING A POLE IN A CHEVROLET IN JUST YOUR THIRD ATTEMPT THIS YEAR) "It's a great little race car. We've got some new race cars in our fleet. I think just about all of them will be brand new chassis with the new body style on them. I've got to thank 'Fatback' (Michael McSwain), too. This is our first year together. I think we've clicked really well since we've started off testing the day after Homestead last year. It's just really been good. I think I'm fortunate just to get to drive this race car because it's the people behind the car that make it all happen --- the guys that build it back at the shop -- Jimmy (Makar), Fatback, and Zippy leading the thing, getting all the parts and pieces right, the bodies - whatever you can do to it to make it the best that we can make it - Mark (Cronquist) and our motor room to make the horsepower - those guys. So, it's important for me to drive it, but it's really important for those guys to be able to have the stuff there, so I've just got to really thank them.
"It's a good little race car, but it all starts from the pieces back at the shop. They form it and fabricate it and make it really fun to drive and makes me look better than what I probably am."
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF RACING HERE? "The corners - just being wide and sweeping corners, I feel like. Qualifying tonight is one thing, but I feel like I'll have a different line for the race. Qualifying is pretty much wide open. You're in the gas, turning a lot...where the race setup, we'll probably be on the bottom. Some guys will be on the top. It's just a different characteristic from qualifying to the race. Qualifying, you're just hauling butt. You're using up all the racetrack. In the race, you want to be able to get your car to turn in the center of the corner after 30 laps because the tires do give up grip. That is a big challenge for me during the race part is to get your car freed up in the middle without getting it too loose on entry and exit."