Watkins Glen: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2004 -- The following are Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO AT...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2004 -- The following are Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing.


* Labonte will attempt to start his 13th race at Watkins Glen. He started on the Bud Pole for the 2000 race because qualifying was rained out and the field was determined based on owner's points.

* Labonte will team with his brother, Terry, in two events at the Glen this weekend. Terry Labonte will drive the No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NEXTEL Cup Series, and also co-drive the No. 44 Doran/Labonte Pontiac in the CompUSA 200 Grand-American Rolex Series race on Friday.

* The teaming of Bobby Labonte, the 2000 NEXTEL Cup Champion, Terry Labonte, the 1984 and 1996 Champion and Tony Stewart, the 2002 Champion, marks only the second time in NASCAR history that three past champions have driven for the same team in the same race. The trio of drivers first competed together for JGR in June at Infineon Raceway.

* In 11 starts at Watkins Glen, Labonte has two top-five finishes (fifth, 1996 and 2000) and six top 10 finishes (fifth, 1996 and 2000; sixth, 1995; seventh, 1993; ninth, 2001; 10th, 1998). As a Raybestos Rookie in 1993 driving for Bill Davis Racing, Labonte finished seventh, tying his best finish of the season. He also finished seventh that season at Dover.

* In 2004 at Watkins Glen, Labonte started 8th and finished 11th.

* Last week at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Labonte was in seventh place when a problem with the right front tire caused him to make contact with the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall in Turn 3. Labonte was not injured, finished 40th and suffered his career-high eighth DNF of the season.

* Despite the poor finish at Indy, Labonte remained 23rd in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. He has 2,039 points and trails 22nd-place Brian Vickers by 168 points. Labonte is 884 points behind Stewart, who now leads the points, 484 points from the 400-point cutoff for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and 448 behind 10th-place Carl Edwards.

* After a miserable start to the season, which included engine failures and accidents not of his making, Labonte has rebounded in recent weeks. He finished 13th at Chicagoland, third at New Hampshire and eighth at Pocono and was seventh when he crashed at Indy. During the first 14 races of the season, Labonte was only higher than 29th in points once (following the Coca-Cola 600, 24th). Since the first Pocono race, when he crashed late, finished 26th and left 29th in points, Labonte has steadily risen in the point standings. He has gained six spots in seven weeks.

* The primary car for the Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen is chassis No. 106, which Labonte drove in June at Infineon Raceway. Labonte started 16th and finished 33rd after crashing the primary car in practice. Chassis 106 was first used when Labonte drove it during qualifying at Infineon.

* The back-up car is chassis No. 86, which was last used during practice at Infineon. Labonte crashed the car and used the back-up car at Infineon. Labonte also drove the car to ninth and 11th-place finishes at Watkins Glen 2003 and 2004, respectively. He also used the car at in 2004 at Infineon Raceway where he started 10th and finished 33rd.


BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion): "You really have zero time to relax in the car at Watkins Glen. You have to have patience as it is a rhythm type of track, but you can't sit back either. The competition is so tough, you can't rest at all at a place like that. You are always trying to think ahead as to where you can make your next pass. It's also very important to hit all of your marks out there like it is any track we go to, but if you get off-track just a little bit, or get shuffled around in traffic, you are going to the rear of the field quickly at the Glen. It just upsets your rhythm, and it can take a lap or two to get going again. When I was able to start on the pole up there in 2000, (qualifying rained out) we were able to lead 15 or 20 laps and we ended up finishing fifth that day. That was a good day, but you almost need to have a perfect day on and off the track to find victory lane at a road-course. I think the preparation in the shop is where a road-course race is won or lost. There is so much work that goes into the transmissions and gears and especially the braking systems on these cars. Every detail matters, and to me, that's where all the team work and behind the scenes stuff pays off. We have a limited amount of practice time and we can't be wasting it on parts and pieces that aren't working properly. (About having Terry as a teammate twice this weekend): "That's a pretty neat deal. We've had fun running the Rolex races this season and it looks like we'll be teammates a few times on the Cup side this year as well. We're hoping to finish our Rolex season pretty strong. We've had a lot of fun and those cars are so much fun to drive. It should be fun."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing , Bill Davis Racing