Michigan II: Bobby Labonte qualifying press conference

BOBBY LABONTE, NO.18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: NOTE: Friday's pole position was Labonte's fourth of the 2003 season and second straight at Michigan. He is the first Winston Cup driver to sweep both Michigan poles since Bill ...

BOBBY LABONTE, NO.18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

NOTE: Friday's pole position was Labonte's fourth of the 2003 season and second straight at Michigan. He is the first Winston Cup driver to sweep both Michigan poles since Bill Elliott did so in 1988. He was the only one of the 44 drivers to crack the 190-mile-per-hour plateau at 37.847 seconds, 190.240 miles per hour. It was the 25th pole of his career and the 13th for Chevrolet in 23 races. Three Chevrolets were in the top five in qualifying. Robby Gordon, winner a week ago at Watkins Glen, was third fastest in the Cingular Monte Carlo, while Terry Labonte timed fifth in the Kellogg's Chevrolet. Jason Leffler was the top Pontiac, timing in sixth in the NetZero Grand Prix.

IT WAS THE SAME THING AS HERE IN JUNE. YOU PRACTICED AT A DECENT CLIP, THEN FIGURE OUT A WAY TO CUT A LOT OF TIME OFF. WHAT WAS THE STORY?

"I just like coming here. Today in practice, we rolled off the truck and we were pretty quick in the first part of the first session. We made out qualifying run and we kind of missed a little bit. I was really fast in one corner, off in another. We went back out and the same thing, so we really didn't make our lap like we wanted to in qualifying trim. Some of the changes that we made with the car were because of the rain. The grip of the race track helped out a little bit to get our speed going because I don't think we'd have gone that fast if it hadn't rained. It cooled the track off a little bit for us, cleaned it up and got us some more grip. It always does that here. I can't explain why I picked up so much, but I'm glad we can do that more times than not. I'm just glad the days that I do, we win the pole with it instead of getting 15th. The guys had a good car all day and we didn't try many things because we were fast off the truck. That's the big key here, being comfortable with the car because you are going so fast. If you start twitching a little bit, your mind tells your foot to let off the gas and you slow down."

SAME CAR YOU HAD IN JUNE?

"Yes. It was a new car then and we haven't run it since then. It's still basically a new car with a few miles on it. The odometer hasn't been turned back yet."

DO YOU THINK THIS IS A LOT OF DRIVERS' FAVORITE TRACK TO RACE ON?

"There's a select number of tracks that most drivers like, and there's a select number that a few drivers like a lot more. This is one track that everybody comes to that likes it pretty well without too many people saying too much, not enough, too little, too big or whatever. It just falls into the category of a good race track. It can widen out to different lanes throughout the race and you can race from the white line to the white wall. That makes for a lot of fun."

DOES BEING UP FRONT MAKE THAT MUCH DIFFERENCE HERE?

"Obviously, it gives us a good pit stall. Last time, we slid back to sixth and stayed there, and we got our car better and came back to finish second. Anytime you can start up front, it's a lot more fun tonight. The guys are a lot more excited about it. There's nothing better than qualifying up front. Even if track position meant squat, it would still be more fun to qualify up front. I know if I win 10 more poles, I'm going to be asked that question. It is good to qualify well everywhere you go, unless they invert the field. Track position is important here, but you can still pass and get passed. We want to start up front and stay there all day."

WAS IT AN ADVANTAGE TO HAVE AN EARLY DRAW?

"I know what the track temperature was when we went out, but I don't know what it climbed to after that. I don't know if it cooled down after that or not. I know the first few guys that went out picked up a lot of speed from practice and the track kept getting hotter and hotter. From the time I left it went down two degrees by the time I came around. It either maintained right there or went up higher. It was pretty lucky that we ended up doing that. Today was the day to have an early draw. The rain probably washed off the track and gave us more grip."

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Jason Leffler