Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team came home 27th on Sunday. They had a great practice on Saturday, with average lap times inside the top-15. When the green flag fell B. Labonte, like many others on pit road, had to...
Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team came home 27th on Sunday. They had a great practice on Saturday, with average lap times inside the top-15. When the green flag fell B. Labonte, like many others on pit road, had to deal with a 'loose' chassis. Crew chief Jeff Meendering made an early two tire stop to gain valuable track position, but B. Labonte lost a lap to the leaders early. He received a 'Lucky Dog' award when a caution flag fell on lap 84 that put him back on the lead lap. It was under this caution that Meendering made huge adjustments to the chassis. The changes began to work as B. Labonte was one of the fastest cars on the track at lap 115 and he had driven up inside the top-15. As the track changed the car began to lose overall grip and B. Labonte did a great job to wheel it to 27th. B. Labonte made 84 green flag passes, which placed him ninth of the 43 drivers.
"We fought problems with forward bite all day long," said B. Labonte. "We weren't the only ones. You could tell that a lot of guys were having the same problem. Jeff swung for the fences after we got the 'Lucky Dog' and those adjustments helped the car. The car was really fast around the halfway point of the race. I don't know if the track changed on us at the end, but the car just felt different and we didn't make hardly any adjustments. It just went away."
Terry Labonte and the No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge finished 32nd on Sunday. He gave the car a great ride during Friday's qualifying session and began the race from the 17th position. Like his brother, T. Labonte was 'loose' at the start of the race. Crew chief Stewart Cooper 'tightened' the car up for T. Labonte, providing some stability and enabling him to compete at the high speeds that have come to define racing at Michigan.
"The thing for us was that we never found the 'sweet' spot for the chassis," stated T. Labonte. "We could make the car really 'loose' or really 'tight,' but it was tough to get it 'neutral.' Stewart threw a lot of adjustments at it and the guys on pit road did a great job in handling everything."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this weekend for Saturday night's Sharpie 500.