Toyota NSCS Las Vegas Notes & Quotes — Bobby Labonte

TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Bobby Labonte — Notes & Quotes Las Vegas Motor Speedway – March 10, 2012

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing How hard has everyone at your race team been working preparing for this season? “Every team out here has great stories at how they get to Daytona or how they’re building their team or how they excel or make their great team even better or more consistent for race wins and championships.  We’re not different than a lot of teams out there.  Our guys have worked real hard over the winter time.  As you well know, Tad and Jodi (Geschickter, co- owners) and Brad (Daugherty, co-owner) had a race team at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) for three years and they decided to take it back to the Harrisburg (N.C.) shop.  Probably to step back from there, we had a meeting with Todd Berrier (crew chief) before that to get things rolling and agreeing that that’s the direction we need to go in.  In September, I don’t think there was anything on the race shop according to what we needed to do to race this year and a lot of it was storage usage. Frank Kerr (shop foreman), Todd and everybody — all the employees there worked hard doing a lot of different things before we started working on race cars.  A lot of things had to be done.  I might have distracted them or said, ‘What the heck.’ They’ve obviously worked real hard to get to this point today. Knowing that we have great leadership in Todd, we have great car owners that are committed to racing and to building this race team.  It’s still a challenge every day for Todd and everybody to get better.  I love what I see in it.  It’s a great story again knowing that over the Christmas holidays a lot of work was done to the first car and then to the second car and then to make things happen.  A lot of hours were put in.  A lot of hours and overtime were put in by a lot of guys.  Don’t get me wrong, everybody from a Hendricks organization down, they’re not going to have 20 cars sitting there in November at Homestead for the next year, because you always wait until the last minute to make sure you have the best of everything.  It’s no different than flying back after Daytona because the rain delay and working 30-odd hours for some guys just to get to Phoenix. A lot of things have had to happen and have happened. To be sitting 11th in points is obviously a great story for us.  For a great little race team that we continue to have plans to grow and that’s how you get anywhere, you have to have a good plan and that’s what has taken place.”

How does it feel to work with a smaller organization? “It’s important and it’s not — the responsibility is what we would normally have anyway or what we do — what we’re built to do.  You don’t mind that.  It is good and bad.  It has its good points and it’s also tough.  Just because the sport that we’re in and what we do and what we’re up against with multi-car teams and all that.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what we have.  The key is nobody goes home at night, no matter what happens at the race track, we’re not satisfied.  We know we have our limitations, but we also know everybody has to start somewhere and so cases in this sport you start in a different year with a different organization.  You know how it is, everybody is changed around.  We were on the plane the other day and you think you work with half the people there.  As you go throughout the years, everybody is trying to find the best edge, the best situation — all that stuff.  I think that we have really good people.  That’s what heps me out a lot.  When you have people that have a lot of desire to do what they do — that helps out a lot.  To be a part of that, to be responsibility wise — everybody is responsible, we’re all held accountable for what we need to do and don’t want to get in their way and they let me explain to them how I need to explain to them and nobody is trying to change anybody, we’re just trying to do the best we can.”

American Muscle

What is it like to race at Martinsville? “For the technology change in our race cars, Martinsville is no different — some but not as much.  It kind of helps out a little bit when you can go to Martinsville and make a little bit more of a difference.  Sometimes here you’re kind of limited to what you’re car — how fast your car might be sometimes.  I always enjoy going to Martinsville.  I’ve won in all three series there and it’s just one of those race tracks — as far as a race team like us, we can definitely go there and have a great day.  I’m looking forward to it because it’s right around the corner at least, it’s not too far away.  It’s a good place for us to go.”

How does preparing for a race track differ from going to a short track and a superspeedway? “I think in a lot of ways Talladega and Daytona are a different animal.  I don’t even count them, there is so much luck after qualifying anyway.  It’s a good question, I do believe it is.  There’s Bristol next weekend can kind of play into it.  At the same time, there’s somewhat of that.  Who uses tires the least or doesn’t wear them out.  I think that there is, that’s why I look forward to it.  As a team, I know that we can go up there and not really run good, but we feel like we can.  Anything can happen.  The key to this whole thing is Todd Berrier (crew chief) with his experience and winning, he is a winner, that’s going to help us out.  I can’t do it myself, he can’t do it himself, our engineers can’t do it themselves — all of us together, hopefully we can excel more at a place like that than some other places.  I’m still very excited about each time we get on the race track, our learning curve is pretty sharp — we’re learning a lot quick about each other and I think that goes well and says a lot for our race team.  I don’t know where we’ll be after Sunday, but we’re 11th in points today, which is not too bad for the first two races that we’ve taken and not had any issues, so that’s good.”

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