Rockingham Pontiac Qualifying Review

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2000) - Interstate Batteries Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte made a run at the Bud Pole for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup event at North Carolina Speedway, but came up a little short and grabbed the third starting spot in...

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2000) - Interstate Batteries Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte made a run at the Bud Pole for Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup event at North Carolina Speedway, but came up a little short and grabbed the third starting spot in the series' second race of 2000.

Labonte was one of four Grand Prix drivers to qualify in the top 15 on Friday. He was followed by Ward Burton in 11th, Kyle Petty in 13th and Tony Stewart in 15th.


"Even though it was warmer, Rusty obviously went faster than they ever have before. So it didn't have that much to do with it as far as that goes. When the sun was out or a cloud came by, you had to see if that made your car a little different. But we didn't touch ours all day basically, except for changing a couple shocks and that's all. But it really didn't make us dig down and do something different because the track temperature was 30 degrees hotter than normal. We just did our normal deal. Goodyear brought a new tire back, which probably helped out a lot. The car seemed to be a little more stable turning and didn't get away from you as quick as it did before, so the construction of it was good. That might have overshadowed the temperature some."


"It wasn't the time we expected. We thought it was going to be a lot better than that, but I got way too loose in the middle of three and four. But all-in-all James Ince and the guys are doing a tremendous job on this Lycos Pontiac, and we're just going to see what happens for the race." (HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHETHER TO RE-QUALIFY) "I don't think we're going to go tomorrow. We'll have to see where it ends up, but I don't see it going any quicker tomorrow for sure, so I think we'll probably just stand on what we've got." (TRACK ANY DIFFERENT THIS TIME) "I think Rockingham is the same now as what it was last year. It's a little bit different tire that Goodyear brought, and it's just a case of getting used to it. I really thought they we would have gone a little bit quicker. But I almost spun and got real loose in the middle of three and four. I'm sure that hurt by a tenth or tenth and a half, and we sure could have used that for qualifying."


"Since we unloaded today the guys were constantly concentrating on me. We really didn't make many changes to the car. The Winston Cup cars drive so much different than the Busch cars here. They carry so much more speed into the corner and your braking points are different and you pick up the gas pedal in a different place. The whole day has just been getting me comfortable. We really didn't change the car much, so that was a good lap for us. This is a big relief. We kind of knew the car was there. But we didn't get to test down here and we've kind of been playing catch-up with me."


"The team did a great job when we got here. The car was real similar. It was the same car we ran here last time. It didn't qualify all that good last time, and it's not going to this time. We ran about the same time we did the last time we were here. But I think we'll be OK for the race because we had a really good race car. I'm fairly happy with the time. I know I could have run a lot quicker. But I tried to get too much out of three and four. I took a high line through the dirt and that's not the quick way around here."


"That lap should have been a whole lot better.  I just screwed it up big
time.  It's just driver error.  I just missed.  I missed my marks.  I
screwed up big today.  But it's a good race car."


"This is good. This is the car we tried to get built to bring down here last year. The guys at the shop worked really hard, but we didn't get it down here, so we've been salivating all winter to try to get it down here. t was good off the trailer. I'll tell you what - Rick Mann and those guys have gotten us a lot more horsepower this year than we had last year. They worked hard and everything working good right now." (ON SUNDAY) "Sunday is not all about tires, it's all about conserving your tires and staying off of them because the racetrack is going to get slick. You saw it in practice. Guys would god out and run 23.60, then their next laps would be a 24.20 and then their next lap would be a 24.80. They would drop a full second in two or three laps, so you just do the best you can. You just have to be a little patient."


(DID THEY HAVE A SHOT AT THE POLE) "I wasn't really sure. We had made a few changes. I think our three-and-four time was pretty good. We lost a little bit in one and two. But that's a pretty good qualifying run for us here. We've kind of struggled a little bit here in qualifying sometimes in the past, but we'll take a top 10 start. I think that's about where we'll be at. That will give us good track position for Sunday." (ON SUNDAY) "It's all about getting your car to balance the tires properly and not wear out one corner quicker than another. We had a good set-up last fall, but like everybody, the track is different and the right side tires are different this time. We'll have to work really hard on it tomorrow." (BEING PATIENT TO NOT WEAR OUT THE TIRES) "Well if you've got the car right it really doesn't bother it that much. When our car is right, you can drive the you-know-what out of it to start with and it still stays under you in the long run. You can still drive it hard. It's just all about the proper set-up that will conserve the tires. Obviously if you're running in eighth place and you can ride for a little while - which still means going pretty hard, but maybe not to the full extent of the car -- you do a little bit of that. But you've got to run these cars about as hard as they'll go every lap or you're going to be lapped."


"That was a lot better. The car drove pretty good there. We made some changes, and probably put more laps on our practice tires than anybody else did. The car drove really good. Greg and all the guys on this Home Depot team did a great job getting ready for qualifying. Now we get to worry about racing again." (COULD IT HAVE BEEN BETTER) "I don't think so. In the second session we went out to do our mock run and I had to abort the run because I got real loose in one and two, so I never got a full run on stickers. So we really didn't know what we could actually run. That was a lot better than I anticipated us running. We maybe could have been better if we had had a little more time to work on it."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty