Pontiac Racing Rockingham race notes

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: "This was typical Rockingham. You never know what is going to happen. But we were very fortunate. This Interstate Batteries Pontiac was about a seventh place car all day. We...

"This was typical Rockingham. You never know what is going to happen. But we were very fortunate. This Interstate Batteries Pontiac was about a seventh place car all day. We didn't really have the right set-up. At times we were a little better than that and at times we were a little worse than that.

"I guess we got a pop-rivet or something in the tire and the left rear tire was going down. At least we caught it. That is probably the first flat tire I've had probably in a year and a half or two years, and I was glad I still felt it because I just haven't had one in a while. But hey, that's the way it goes. It could have been a lot worse. There's nothing you can do about it except go on to the next one like we have been all year."

(IT LOOKED LIKE YOU MIGHT LOSE 50 POINTS OR SO TO DALE EARNHARDT TODAY, BUT THEN HE FADED AND YOU DODGED ANOTHER BULLET) "Well, but if we hadn't had that (flat tire) we would have picked up 50 points maybe, too, so we're just very fortunate that we caught everything. If that caution hadn't come out we might not have been quite so bad. But the cautions came out too much for us there for a while anyway. It's just one of those days here at Rockingham. It could happen to you or it could not happen to you.

"It's just one of those deals. We're very fortunate that it is what it is and it's over now, so we'll go to the next one."

(ON THE TIRE CONSISTENCY) "We didn't change a whole lot and they changed some. You would feel a little different every time. I thought we had a pretty good handle on it yesterday afternoon, but I never really got it as good as I needed to."

"We were just off. We finished a lot better than we probably should have. We were just off when we unloaded. We made some great changes for qualifying and great changes during the race, really. I don't believe we deserved 11th, but the guys kept working hard, kept working and kept working, and we ended up 11th. We could have maybe even been a little bit better, but yet in the same token shouldn't have.

"It's tough to run here. The tires fall off fast, but everybody's got to deal with it. The tires would last a good eight laps and then you would just sit there and fight from that point in time on. But there again, like I said, everybody had to deal with the same problem."

"If we had started the race the way the last 10 laps ended up we would have been OK. We missed it big-time on the set-up and kept adjusting and adjusting, and nothing was working. Finally, we changed the fender around a little bit and the thing started working the last 100 or 150 laps. We just needed more time. If it had been a 500-lap race we would have been better. But we'll take it the way it started out."

"We just had no happy medium. We cannot get the push out of these damn race cars, and when we do, we just take the rear out of tracks. There is no happy medium. It's been like that all summer. We had one stretch, one set of tires, one set-up that stayed under us pretty good, but the car changed so much it was just all I could do with it."

(ARE YOU MAKING A LATE-SEASON STATEMENT BY FINISHING AS HIGHEST FINISHING ROOKIE TWO WEEKS IN A ROW?) "The only thing I don't have on is a shirt that says, 'Will work for food.' I'm looking for a job, but our team is getting better. I'm getting better. I think it's just taken a while. Winston Cup is a lot harder than I ever dreamed it was -- even (for) Barry (Dodson), I think, coming back over here. It's just taken a while for us to get going and it starting to show."

(IS RETURNING TO THE TRUCK SERIES AN OPTION FOR THE FUTURE?) "It was an option as of last Monday, but I turned it down. I'd like to stay here. I made it here. I'd like to stay here and pick up another ride. But there is some Busch stuff that is starting to open up and I'd do that. I'd go back and do that - happy to do that - race and get some more experience on these racetracks. It's the racetracks that I need to run."

"Considering the problems we had at the end there - you can't be too disappointed to restart 18th and come back to pass 10 cars in the last 35 laps. The best part about it and the best part for us leaving here is that we had the fastest car that last 35 laps. We were breaking even or a tenth (of a second) faster than the leader according to the timer.

"I don't think the groove that I like to run here is the hot ticket anymore. I got to run on top a lot today and that's where the groove seems to be moving up to. The more I ran up there the more used to it I got. But I was still always just a little bit faster on the bottom.

"We just keep trying to learn and the next time we come back here I'll have a little more confidence about running the top for me to go up there and keep working on the car. After the first stop, I don't think we changed anything the whole day except for maybe a half a pound of air. We had a car that drove good. I just think my driving style and where I wanted to run on the racetrack probably hurt us a little bit, as far as not being in the best spot to be in today."

(ON BEING SO GOOD ON THE FINAL RUN) "That set of tires was one of the best sets we had all day, so that probably helped us more than anything. Being able to have one of the best sets we had be there right at the end when it counted helped us get back up into the top 10 and get us up to seventh. "We never give up. We've had cases where we've been a lap down and got our lap back and came back to the front, so we never give up - none of us do. Every one of us keeps giving 100 percent until they drop the checkered (flag) on the thing."

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Series NASCAR Cup