Open: GM Racing Friday practice quotes

Bobby Labonte 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Note: Crashed in afternoon practice. Will use backup car (Chassis ...

Bobby Labonte 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet

Note: Crashed in afternoon practice. Will use backup car (Chassis #78)


WHAT WERE THE CONDITIONS? Tires were cold and it was our first lap out of the garage. I made a qualifying run and had sticker tires on it. Went down into one and two pretty good, then went into three. Before I ever got there.

Jimmie Johnson 48 Lowe's Chevrolet

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ALL-STAR RACE? Man, the All-Star race is a big one for everyone. There's so much money on the line. No points to worry about. In a way it reminds me of the fun I'm having in the Busch Series, where I can go back, drive my butt off and it doesn't matter. In the big picture of things, there's a lot of hard work that goes into it. You can do anything you want, be risky with pit stop strategy, setups, all of it. And the big prize is a million dollars at the end of it.

WHAT IS THE MENTALITY OF A DRIVER GOING INTO A RACE WHEN THERE'S NO POINTS ON THE LINE? I think it's different for everybody. It's still a race where you're going to have to get to the end. It's not a total shootout. This track is notorious for eating tires up, so there still a little bit of a normal race mentality in the All-Star event because the race is so long and the track is so abusive. If you've got a good horse, you're going to take off. But if you don't, you've got a couple segments to work on it and you just take it from there and hope it comes your way.

WHAT TYPES OF THINGS CAN YOU DO IN THIS RACE THAT YOU WOULDN'T DO IN A POINTS RACE? You can make some pretty aggressive changes on the pit stops. Try some different things there-spring rubbers, turns on wedge and trackbar. You don't have any points it in, so you can afford to put six rounds in it or take six rounds out of it and not really worry about it. So, it's more aggressive across the board.

HOW ABOUT ON THE TRACK? As far as us on the race track, you still have to race against these guys the following week. We race each other how the other guy races you, and that's the way you take it. So, if somebody turns you for the million, 600 is the following week and I'm sure whoever it is will remember. Our sport policies itself that way because we see each other so often.

IS THAT A DANGEROUS SIDE OF THAT? WE SAW THAT A BIT IN 2004'S EVENT Yeah, typically I think that I look at that incident and I don't think that would normally happen on a standard points race track, bump drafting on an intermediate track. Obviously it didn't work out too well for anyone because they crashed both cars. You know, that's an example of the risks you'll take in an All-Star event that you typically wouldn't.

HOW FAST IS LMS RIGHT NOW WITH THE GRINDING OF THE SURFACE? It is fast. You know, personally, I'm not real sure where I need to be or what I need to be doing. You have so many different patches you cross over. Old asphalt. New spots where the track is getting ground. The bumps changed a bit and they way you catch them affects the car. So there's a lot of things going on. I'm really looking forward to the All-Star event to learn the race track because it is so different. We tested the Busch car here, back the second day and didn't get a lot of practice, so I'm still learning the track. It definitely isn't the old Lowe's Motor Speedway.

HOW MUCH INCENTIVE IS THE MILLION DOLLARS TO WIN? I think all of us sit back and think of a million dollars and how we'd spend it and we all have some ideas.

HOW MUCH RISK ARE YOU WILLING TO TAKE ON SATURDAY NIGHT? I mean, if I've got a shot at winning the race, I will do all that I can. There aren't any points, so it doesn't do any good to race for second, third, fourth, fifth. So, it's either win the race or bring home your race car so you don't cause work for anyone else.

A FEW CARS CRASHED IN PRACTICE TODAY. WHY? I think the track is a lot different than what all of us remember. It's going to be changing with more laps on the race track and the grooving. The grinding sort of wears down. There are some grooves out there that are wearing in. It's going to be ever changing. I think you'll see guys out there learning. You go from the old asphalt to the new grinding surface of the old asphalt, and I think that combination of grip levels gets the car out of shape and you lose it. I lost one here in testing in a Busch car and a few guys have lost it here today.

Jeff Gordon 24 DuPont Chevrolet

NEXT WEEK YOUR TEAMMATE TRIES TO WIN THE COCA-COLA 600 AND MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW. YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO THAT. HOW TOUGH IS THAT? It's extremely tough. This is a race that's a long race. You have to stay mentally focused and you certainly have to have your car and your program together. And Jimmie has really become comfortable with this race track and Chad and those guys have put a great setup under his car to go out there and be strong. You know, Humpy's went and changed the track on him a little bit, so I don't know if that's going to throw a wrench in there at all. If it's going to still be the same old Charlotte, but I have a feeling it's changed a bit. That will only challenge those guys a bit more. Trying to win a race back to back is tough enough, but you try to do it three years in a row, four years in a row, it just gets tougher and tougher. Competition wants it to be tougher.

HUMPY WHEELER PICKED YOU TO WIN. His percentages are pretty good. I'd like to keep those percentages up for him. We've got a good car. It's not as good as our car for next weekend, but it's a really good car and we tested here well, so it's the best we've run here for the All-Star event here in Charlotte in a while.

HOW IS THE TRACK? Track is good. You know, the cooler temperatures are really a good thing. Because we're practicing during the day, it's almost useless to practice during the day when you're racing at night. So, the fact that the temperatures have been cooler are only going to give us closer conditions to what we're going to be racing with tomorrow night. The track is fast. There's a couple different grooves out there. I haven't gotten around anybody to try to pass them, but it seems like it's pretty tough to pass. I'm really looking forward to rubber being laid down on the track and seeing the track under its new conditions on how it races, how maneuverable we are out there.

WITH NO POINTS ON THE LINE, WHAT IS A DRIVER'S MINDSET GOING INTO THE ALL-STAR RACE? One million dollars. One millllllion dollars. It's a big event, it's one that we all want to win and have under our belt. And it's an exciting race for us as drivers. We're white-knuckling, giving it everything we've got, because we know that really it's about a trophy, prestige and money. And putting on the best show that we can for these fans and it allows us to push harder, not think too much about points and track position and all those things. It's about getting it done. And I think that offers a great opportunity for the fans to experience the uniqueness that we don't get to see every weekend.

YOU SAY PUSH HARDER. WHAT TYPES OF THINGS ARE YOU WILLING TO DO IN A RACE LIKE THIS THAT YOU WOULDN'T DO NEXT WEEKEND? Well, when we saw push harder, yeah, us physically push the cars harder. That's one part of it. But also, pushing the setups, pushing the engines. Doing things with the car that might not work well for a 600-mile race. It might not last over a 600-mile race. It's hard to get into the details, some of it would be interally to Hendrick, some of it would be like which spring shock would we run. And then once we get out there, we get to the closing laps of this race, you're going to see sparks flying from out the cars just because we're carrying more speed into the corners, through the corners, just giving it everything we've got to get that victory.

HOW MUCH MORE RISK ARE YOU WILLING TO TAKE? Well, getting in a wreck doesn't win you the race, so it's no use in taking that type of a risk. You're certainly-if you've got a car capable of winning, or you've got to protect a position that you have-you're going to take certainly extra risks, at this race, than in a points race for sure. How far? You have to just wait to that position or that opportunity or that moment comes, so you can't necessarily answer that now. You answer that in that moment and we'll see. I would imagine, just like any other All-Star event, you'll see us pushing to the limits sometimes too far. And sometimes taking those risks that will make for a very exciting finish.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Jimmie Johnson