BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: DID YOU SEE MUCH OF A CHANGE IN TIRE WEAR DURING PRACTICE THIS MORNING, AS COMPARED TO THE WAY THINGS WERE AT MARTINSVILLE BEFORE THE CHANGES TO THE TRACK SURFACE? "We put about 50...
BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
DID YOU SEE MUCH OF A CHANGE IN TIRE WEAR DURING PRACTICE THIS MORNING, AS COMPARED TO THE WAY THINGS WERE AT MARTINSVILLE BEFORE THE CHANGES TO THE TRACK SURFACE? "We put about 50 laps on a set of tires in the first practice this morning and it didn't seem like the tire wear changed as much, but it seemed like the 'tire give-up' changed a lot.
"Last time here, you could run 15 laps and you'd start getting faster and faster and faster. Now, it seems like you get to that point and you start sliding more and sliding more and you start losing speed.
"Tire wear doesn't seem like it's that big of a deal, but the 'grip factor' of it after a few laps goes away."
MUCH MORE NOTICEABLE ON THE STOPWATCH THAN IT HAS BEEN IN RACES PAST... "Definitely. Definitely."
IS TRACK POSITION STILL GOING TO WEIGH MORE TOMORROW THAN FOUR FRESH TIRES? "I think [track position] is still going to be worth an awful lot, but I think it might be a bit different in some ways. The last time here guys came in and got tires and they were still a little faster, but they didn't have enough time to get there. Now, you might see more guys do the tire deal because they're thinking like, 'We better have tires.'
"You're going to have guys that are going to try to stick it out (without tires). But, if you have a long run under green the guys with tires will probably out-run you."
JAMES INCE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 10 VALVOLINE PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
HOW HAVE THE CHANGES TO THE RACETRACK AFFECTED THE SURFACE? "It's not that bad. They've actually smoothed up the racetrack, but they sure haven't helped it any. The bottom groove is not what it was and we're concerned there is not going to be a two-groove racetrack.
"It's changed some things - not hugely, but you don't know what it's going to be. It's a little confusing right now. We're thoroughly happy with our race car, but we don't know where it's going to end up.
"It sill goes back to the same question we've all been asking for two days. We don't understand why they did what they did.
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF ONE-GROOVE VERSUS TWO-GROOVE RACING HERE TOMORROW "You could run in the second groove before, especially as you got into the race. If you got your car right, you could actually get up there, run pretty good and make some spots up. Now, I don't see any hope. I see the front bumper being the only way that you'll pass tomorrow.
"The second groove right now is actually OK. But, our concern is that once everybody gets to running around on the bottom and you throw all the rubber up - the tire wear is worse than what it was - you get all the rubber in the top groove, you won't be able to run up there. So, all of a sudden it is single-file racing."
WILL THIS CHANGE HOW YOU CALL THE RACE TOMORROW? "I think it is going to put it back like it used to be, which is good for me, personally. I think you're going to put tires on it and you're going to go faster when you do that. We've already seen that. The drop-off is pretty big.
"The guy with the most tires might win the race tomorrow."