Pocono II: Bobby Labonte preview

LABONTE/TEAM READY TO MAKE MOVE High Hopes for August Team Looking To Take Next Step Bobby Labonte and the ...


High Hopes for August
Team Looking To Take Next Step

Bobby Labonte and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head back to the 2.5-mile Pocono (Penn.) Raceway this weekend for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500. The team returns after finishing 19th on June 10 at the raceway.

The Cheerios/Betty Crocker team also finished 19th this past weekend at the Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway. The result moved Labonte back to 20th in championship points.

Labonte has three previous starts at Pocono with Petty Enterprises. In those starts he has an average finish of 13 and has completed every lap. His career results are some of the most impressive of any current driver. Labonte has three wins, nine top-10 and five top-five finishes. He has started 10th or better 11 times in 29 starts.

Comments from Labonte as he prepares for this weekend's Pennsylvania 500:

"It's been an up and down year for us so far. We are 20 races into the season and there are now only 16 races left to end on an 'up'. The last two races, Chicago and Indianapolis, have been a start. We were in the top 20, but last year we ended our season with top 10 runs. That's the roll we want to get in right now. It's going to take that to get into the 'chase', but it can also give us momentum for the winter.

"Pocono has been a good track. It's a different track, it's not something you think of when you are thinking about an oval, but it has been a good place for me. It's been a good place for our team since I've joined Petty Enterprises. That makes us feel good about getting back here. We have that ball rolling slowly right now, but Pocono can get it going a little bit faster. It's a good track for us to go to right now.

"In May and June we had top 20 runs, but we didn't have a really strong July. That hurt us in points, but we've started to come back the last two weekends. We made some changes to our cars with our noses. We've tested more and we're still searching and testing to get better. We aren't pleased with top-20 finishes. That is why we are still working to find the right combination to get back to the top-10.

"Last year we hit that combination during the chase. Now we want to make that run going into the chase. It's going to be pretty tough to get into it, but it's all about building that momentum and getting better. Hitting that next step is the goal for us. We're reaching to get there.

"There is so much competition out there. We at Petty Enterprises have to move faster than they do. We have to make that leap before they do. You test, you do engineering and you pull all your efforts together. The guys are working hard and hopefully we can hit on it.

"This is the last month to put it together. We have four races this month. It's a very active month. We know who the top teams are right now. They are sitting in the top-10. There are a bunch of guys sitting 12th to 20th in points right now looking to make that run. We want to be that team that does it. It's going to take top 10 finishes.

"Pocono can be a good start for us. Paul (Andrews) has a good feel for this track. He has given us some good cars here. It's not easy to have a good car here, but we've been pretty strong the last few races. It's time for us to make that move and we're looking to start this weekend."

-credit: pettyracing.com

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte