Rockingham: Bobby Labonte press conference

BOBBY LABONTE, NO. 18 INTERSTATE BATTERIES PONTIAC GRAND PRIX (Third place): WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 'RED-FLAG' ISSUE? "A lot of the series have started going to the 'green-white-checkered' [finish]. I don't say that I approve of that. I...


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 'RED-FLAG' ISSUE? "A lot of the series have started going to the 'green-white-checkered' [finish]. I don't say that I approve of that. I don't really like that a lot of times. For me, I'm probably not that good on three laps, so I don't approve of it. But, at least if they said, 'Hey, it's going to be 'green-white-checkered, ' or, 'No, it's not going to be 'green-white-checkered' and we're not going to red-flag it. We're going to finish under yellow' - either one of the other would be fine; instead of one time you know and the next time it's different. If it was just a consistent deal it would be better - whichever way it is it would be better. It doesn't matter if it's right or wrong; just make one decision, and who cares at that point in time."

HOW WAS THE EARLY PART OF YOUR RUN TODAY? "We didn't have any forward bite there at the beginning of the race. We just struggled, struggled, struggled and try to work on the race car some. We got a lap down, but then DJ (Dale Jarrett) blew a motor right in front of us and we were able to get our lap back. From that point on it was a whole lot better. It was a lot different outlook. We were sitting there a lap down before halfway, but then the guys in the pits, they adjusted on the race car some. We changed some air pressure, wedge and everything, track bar adjustments - everything we could really do in a short stop - and then got some track position out of it and got better and better as the day went on."

WAS IT A REAL DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE AFTER THOSE CHANGES? "Yeah, I was about 45 degrees sideways there the first part of the race. There towards the end we had a lot of forward bite and the car was a lot better handling. We didn't quite have the steam at the beginning of a run, like Matt [Kenseth] did, but for the most part we were pretty close for the last 150 laps."

WHY DID THE CREW GO UNDER THE HOOD MIDWAY THROUGH THE RACE? "Right after we got our lap back it sounded like we lost a cylinder. I don't know if we cracked a header or something like that, so we thought we'd just take a look at it, in case a plug wire fell off or something. We didn't want to just restart at the back, since we were at the tail end of the line anyway. We didn't want to restart like that. We figured we'd just look at it and make sure that it wasn't something like a piece of rubber that had come up there and knocked a spark plug boot off - just double-check it. Everything seemed fine. It didn't sound right after that. I don't know way, but it ran good, so I really didn't worry about it too much."

WHY DO YOU FEEL YOU RUN SO WELL HERE? "We've had some good, consistent runs here the past two or three years. I've finished in the top five a lot more later in my career here than I did when I started out. We have just hit upon a good combination. It seems like when the '20' car (Tony Stewart} came into existence with Tony, we hit upon a good combination together and it seems like it works every time for us. We have to adjust on it quite a bit, but yet, at the same time we start off with a good base. For about three years now - nearly going on four years, it just seems like when Greg Zipadelli and Jimmy [Makar] and those guys - we all kind of put our heads together to come down here and race - we kind of hit upon a combination that worked out for us. For whatever reason, it did and still does."

HOW DOES IT FEEL FOR THE GIBBS TEAM TO BOUNCE BACK SO STRONG THIS WEEK AFTER LAST WEEK'S DISAPPOINTMENTS? "It feels really good. Last week was tough for all of us, as far as getting involved in that wreck, but that's the way it is. But you always look forward to coming back to Rockingham and racing really strong here. We look forward to it and we're glad that we did [run well]. It's a good confidence boost for us to go to Las Vegas. We tested the other day out there. It's kind of one of those deals where we needed a good run here to bounce back from Daytona and we had a good run today. Hopefully we'll continue that and make a streak of it, I guess."

ON THE OVERALL START TO YOUR SEASON "It's kind of the same start that we had last year. We just don't need to do what we did last year and fall out of some races here in the near future. But our stuff feels pretty good. Our car feels good, our race team is good and I feel real good about it. I feel real confident about it."

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ONE-ENGINE RULE "Basically we were doing the same thing last year. We'd qualify one motor, and then practice the whole practice and race the same motor, so we did that last year. We ran six laps of practice before qualifying today. Other places we're not going to do that. It's going to be good at times; it's probably going to be tough at times."

IF YOU COULD MAKE THE DECISION AS TO WHETHER WE'D HAVE A ONE-ENGINE RULE... "It don't make a squat to me. I don't change motors anyway, anymore. I used to, but I don't anymore. It's up to the guys on the crew. They do all the work.

"I'm sure the first time something happens to your motor with 25 [laps] to go, you'll be crying."

-pontiac racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart