TERRY LABONTE , NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Pole-Sitter: NOTES: This is his 27th Career pole, his 2nd Bud Pole at RIR, and it is the 11th Hendrick Motorsports pole at RIR. This will be Labonte's 54th front-row start of his career -...
TERRY LABONTE , NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Pole-Sitter:
NOTES: This is his 27th Career pole, his 2nd Bud Pole at RIR, and it is the 11th Hendrick Motorsports pole at RIR. This will be Labonte's 54th front-row start of his career - his 5th at Richmond. His last pole was at Texas on March 31, 2000. Last Bud Pole at Richmond was March, 1996. His has four wins at Richmond (including a NASCAR Craftsman Truck win).
DID YOU MAKE A LOT OF CHANGES BETWEEN PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING? "No, we really didn't. That was pretty much how we practiced. It's kind of unusual for us to pick upa little bit from practice. It was a real good run for us. Our car was good right off the truck there."
ON RACING AT RIR "This is one of my favorite tracks. If I were to pick a place that is one of my favorites, this is definitely one of them. We've had some good runs here. We've won some races here. We've come close other times. It's just one of those places I think where we have a pretty good combination. Our Chevrolet Monte Carlo is running pretty good. Our car has been running pretty good lately. The guys have done a good job. We were pretty fast right off the truck."
WAS WINNING THE POLE TODAY UNEXPECTED? "Yeah, probably as much (for me) as it was for you all. We've actually been running pretty good. Last week in California, we unloaded off the truck and we were the fastest for like an hour in practice. I kept looking at the board and was thinking I didn't know what to do - it's been so long since we've been in this position. We came out here and were pretty good off the truck. I think we were 13th or 16th in practice. We made some adjustments on the car and picked up a little bit. It's so close when you're up there in the top 10. Just a tenth of a second one way or the other makes a big difference. We did a real good first lap and then the second lap was better. It was good enough for the pole. We're excited. I would have been happy with a top 10. So, we're even happier."
ON ALL FOUR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DRIVERS QUALIFYING IN THE TOP 10 "The new cars have really let us get back to even - equipment-wise. The cars are probably built closer together than they have been in the past. With the new bodies, are cars are closer aero-wise than they have been. The four crew chiefs all get along good and they all talk to each other. We've been able to share some information with each other. Sometimes that helps and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you can't run the same stuff. At Talladega, you'd think we'd all be able to run the same set-up. We couldn't run the same set-up in all four cars for qualifying. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't."
WHEN YOU HAVEN'T WON A POLE FOR A WHILE, DO YOU GET SKEPTICAL OF YOURSELF? "No, I wasn't really worried about it. After I qualified, I thought that could be a top 10. Then after a while, I thought it might be a top five. Then I got kind of nervous at the last two (drivers) and thought I would be kind of mad if these two guys would have beat us. It's so close up there, like I said. A lot of times a tenth of a second really shuffles things around. We made a few adjustments on our car and it picked it up a little bit. I'm sure everybody did. The track was better early. I figured it was going to be better late. But we had a good lap and a good time and came out on top."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN AT RICHMOND? BRAINS, DETERMINATION, OR EXPERIENCE? "It really helps if your car works good. The times that I've been to victory lane, that's what I had. I can't say anything about the rest of those things. But if your car handles good all night and you stay out of trouble, you have a good chance to have a good finish."
ON BEING FASTER ON THE FIRST LAP OR SECOND LAP IN PRACTICE AND THEN IN QUALIYFING "Some of the guys laps in practice were faster on their first lap. Some were faster on their second lap. We had been faster on our first lap in practice. We made a little air pressure adjustment and we ended up faster in our second lap. But I really didn't start watching it until it got down to Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch late in the field that I thought had the best shot at beating us. But I kind of expected some of the other guys to be close. Qualifying is the toughest part of the weekend."
ON THE TEAM'S IMPROVEMENT "We started the year and didn't do that well at Daytona. It was nothing anybody did; we had an ignition failure during the race. But we really didn't run that good at Rockingham. After that, we started getting better. We actually only tested one time other than Daytona. We tested at Texas. When we left that test, it seemed like things started clicking a little bit better for our team. We got our car working better. We were able to try some things we hadn't been able to try. The other thing is that we've probably run five or six different cars and we've run well with all of them. A year ago, every time we ran good, we only had one car and it was the same car all the time. Our equipment is much more consistent than it has been in several years. That's been a big key."
ON QUALIYFING DURING THE DAY FOR A NIGHT RACE "Well, we've got to go through Happy Hour here and get our car as good as we can as far as working real good as far as handling. This is a tough race track sometimes. The guy who wins is got a car that handles really good in short runs and really good in long runs. It's a pretty tough track. Just because we've won here before, we don't have an advantage. It's always different. This particular car that we have here is a car we've never run here before. We'll just look at the set-up and see how it does in the first practice and go from there. The key is handling here at Richmond.