NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube 500 Report: #18, Bobby Labonte
3 November 1997
#18 Bobby Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube 500 Presented by Kmart Advance Phoenix International Raceway November 2, 1997 LABONTE HAS LONG DAY AT PHOENIX PHOENIX, AZ - Bobby Labonte did a little bit of everything in Sunday's Dura- Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The driver of the Interstate Batteries Pontiac hit a curb on the backstretch, made an unscheduled pit stop under green, and wrestled an ill-handling car. He finished 23rd, two laps down to race winner Dale Jarrett. Labonte's problems began on lap 65 when he was the victim of a racing incident. "Ken Schrader made it three wide in the dogleg on the backstretch," Labonte said. "I went down low to give them room, but I went too far and bounced off the curbing and hit Ricky Rudd. That pushed in the right rear fender on the tire and we had to pit." Labonte came to pit road on lap 67 for right side tires. He returned to the track in just 10.53 seconds, but lost a lap in the process. An ill-handling race car would eventually drop Labonte another lap down later in the race. "We were loose for most of the race," Labonte said. "At times the car was so loose it felt like forever before I could get on the throttle. We kept adjusting on the car to make it better and on the last stop we got the car way too tight. It was aggravating to get a lap down early in the race and be forced to play catch up for the rest of the day." Labonte qualified fourth during first round time trials Friday afternoon with a lap of 27.633 seconds, 130.279 mph. "We qualified as fast as we ran in practice," Labonte said after his run. "I'm a little bit disappointed because we didn't pick up any speed. That's a decent lap and now we can go get ready to race." Labonte remains seventh in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship standings, 682 points behind leader Jeff Gordon. He trails sixth place Terry Labonte by 161 and leads eighth place Bill Elliott by 135 points. By Camp & Associates, Inc.