Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, was ninth-fastest during the first practice session at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. The Texas native has finished third three times at TMS, and will start 24th...
Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, was ninth-fastest during the first practice session at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday. The Texas native has finished third three times at TMS, and will start 24th tomorrow.
YOU'VE BEEN WITH THIS TEAM FOR SIX RACES NOW. ARE YOU PLEASED WITH THE WAY THIS TEAM HAS CONTINUED TO GROW? "Oh, yeah. Definitely. I look back over the last two weeks at Bristol and Martinsville, and we definitely didn't qualify good at Bristol. We decent car in practice, but, after the track rubbered up, we just couldn't get a grip on it. We battled back to a 22nd-place finish, and we came out of there unscathed, too, so that was quite of a little bit of a moral victory because that place can grab you. Twenty-second was definitely not something to write home about, but as our group, we weren't that bad. I think we definitely have some ideas to go back there with. It was one of those things where, yeah, we didn't have a 10th-place car, we probably had an 18th-place car -- 15th-, 16th-, 17th-, if a couple of things would've gone our way -- but we finished 22nd, so we salvaged some points out of it. And then we go to Martinsville, qualifying got rained out and we started by points. We started off really good, and our car wasn't that bad, we just never had track position all day, so we ended up 16th. I spun it with about 10 to go there, and that kind of got us back a couple of spots, and just kind of screwed that deal up. But, overall, our car was faster than what we showed, and we were able to tweak on it during the day and make some changes. The biggest thing is understanding what I need to do, and say, 'I feel like we need to try this,' during a race in our changes, because I really don't know exactly what some of the things that used to work for me before, when we tried in practice and it's different, it doesn't work the same way, just trying to fine-tune it. So, like I told those guys this week in the team meeting and a few guys individually is that I know the last two weeks really haven't been that good, as far as finishes go, but we're constantly building and constantly being smart about building the foundation, still, so even though it wasn't what we wanted, I feel like it was a solid day and it was not a crappy day. That's key because for two weeks, we definitely didn't lose our cool. Yeah, we're not running as good as we need to, but we didn't screw up. So, I like that, and knowing that we're building on continuously as we go."
YOU'RE FAMILIAR WITH THIS TRACK. IS THIS A GOOD PLACE FOR YOU AND THIS TEAM TO LEARN WHERE YOU ARE IN TERMS OF BUILDING THE ORGANIZATION? "Yes, I think so. Obviously, we've got Darlington, it's not quite like this, but yet it is in a way, as far as a fast track, and then we'll have Charlotte coming up, even Dover is a fast, fast place. Some of the stuff you do here will not exactly apply, but it gives us the idea of the speeds that we're going to be running, and the things that we do to apply for, and then you go to Pocono, Michigan, and even though it's a flat track and it two miles, and this and that, there are still a lot of things that apply as far as the speed of the car, the motors and our set-ups will be somewhat similar in areas. So, yeah, I do feel like it is. I think Vegas was good for us. Atlanta, we just screwed up and didn't run long enough, but I think we would've rebounded okay. So, yeah, I do feel good about it, and I think we've got a good package for the bigger tracks right now. It seems like our short tracks might be a little off."
-credit: ford racing