NASCAR Winston Cup CMT 300 Report: #18, Bobby Labonte
16 September 1997
#18 Bobby Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix NASCAR Winston Cup Series CMT 300 Race Report New Hampshire International Speedway September 14, 1997 LABONTE MORE COMPETITIVE IN SECOND NEW HAMPSHIRE RACE LOUDON, NH - Bobby Labonte struggled at the first Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway in July, but he turned in a more competitive effort in Sunday's CMT 300. Labonte finished 15th, on the lead lap, far better than his 27th place finish two months ago at the flat 1.058 mile track. "We were better this time than we were in July," Labonte said. "I think both Jimmy (Makar, crew chief) and Joe (Gibbs, team owner) would agree that the July New Hampshire race was our worst performance of the year. So I'm glad we were able to be more competitive this time. We are not happy with a 15th place finish. We're never happy unless we win the race so we still have work to do. "We started the race too loose," Labonte said. "We made some adjustments to the car and got it too tight from the center of the corner on out. So on the next stop we pulled the rubber out of the right front spring. The car just never did go like it needed to. At least we got a decent finish." Labonte's weekend started off on a positive note when he earned the 12th starting position during first round time trials with a lap of 29.929 seconds, 127.261 mph. He was also prophetic. "I thought we had a little bit better run in practice, but so did a lot of other guys," Labonte said after his run. "We qualified better than last time so I can't complain (he started 17th in the July race). Maybe we'll race better." Labonte remains seventh in the NASCAR Winston Cup championship standings, 697 points behind point leader Jeff Gordon. He trails sixth place Dale Earnhardt by 108 and leads eighth place Bill Elliott by 121 points. By Camp & Associates, Inc.