NOTE: Pontiac driver was involved in a single-car incident during the opening minutes of the first Winston Cup practice session on Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway and was forced to switch to a backup car for Sunday's 300-mile...
NOTE: Pontiac driver was involved in a single-car incident during the opening minutes of the first Winston Cup practice session on Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway and was forced to switch to a backup car for Sunday's 300-mile event. Labonte's car made car contact with the outside retaining wall after exiting turn four on his first "hot" lap of practice.
* The car involved in the incident was the car Labonte drove to victory earlier this season at Martinsville Speedway.
* The last time Labonte crashed in a pre-race practice and was forced into a backup car was at Darlington Raceway in September of 2000 (65 races ago), when he won the Southern 500 after starting 37th.
* Labonte enters Sunday's race riding a string of five straight top 10 finishes at New Hampshire, dating back to September 19, 1999.
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON THE INCIDENT "I got on the racetrack and got going as fast as I could, as quick as I could, which really wasn't as quick as some other guys and I spun out. It's nobody's fault but mine. I don't think it had anything to do with anything else."
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
HOW MUCH DOES IT MEAN TO START TOMORROW'S RACE WITH DECENT TRACK POSITION AT A PLACE WHERE YOU'RE ALREADY VERY COMPETITIVE? "This place hasn't typically always been the easiest place to pass on. If you can qualify up front the then get a car that runs good in the race on top of that, it just makes your day a lot easier. You don't have to beat the car up to get to the front. But, I was telling [crew chief] Greg Zipadelli earlier, with the lower groove that has been added, there is the potential for some gouging and carving to go on this weekend on Sunday. I think if you get down in there and you get down in there too hard, it's going to be hard to stay down there and you're going to slide up into guys. It might make for a pretty interesting race this weekend. So, starting up front will be a pretty good advantage, I hope."
DO YOU FEEL THE LOWER GROOVE WILL BE A VIABLE OPTION FOR YOU? "I will say this - I remember when they had problems with the asphalt peeling up here after they had re-surfaced it and the Cup cars came here. They re-paved it and we came back with the IRL cars in 1996. When we got here, nobody would run on it. They were all running above it because they said it was slick. But, we ran on it the whole time and we were almost three laps ahead of the field with 18 laps to go in a 200-lap race and had a motor break. You always have to look at options - going somewhere where they (the competition) are not. But, we'll have to see how it plays out."