Originally created 04/01/04

NASCAR newsmaker Bobby Labonte

Labonte talked about being in Texas and what it means to the rest of this family.

Question: What's it like to be home in Texas this week?

Labonte: It's always a great feeling going back to Texas because we can usually get more cheers than other cats do. So that's always a lot of fun. If you were to start at the racetrack and drive to Corpus Christi, it's seven or eight hours. In perspective, it's like going from High Point (N.C.) to Talladega (Ala.). That's a long ways, but Texas is a big state. At the same time it is cool to go back. We have huge hospitalities there and a lot of fans that crave racing. It's cool to be there. We are from Texas and we'll always be from there.

Question: You're back in the Busch Series again as a driver for Richard Childress and as a car owner with your nephew Justin as the driver. What are your thoughts about that?

Labonte: We're really excited about it. It's a great opportunity to get back in the Busch Series in a very unique situation driving a car for Richard Childress, which is not like driving for Joe Gibbs Racing or one of my own. Texas is the only planned race for me to be in that car this year. That makes is unique because it's a one-time deal for me (along with) having Justin running his car at the same time. I told Terry he should get a car and run with us. But it didn't quite pan out. But I'm excited. I've never raced against Justin before, but I've seen him race, and I've been to tests with him and things like that. I'm always looking at his career and trying to help him out as much as I can without really getting in the way, so this is a great opportunity.

Question: What sort of tips will Uncle Bobby be passing along to Justin?

Labonte: I'll have to be asking him for advice before the weekend is over. It's a tough racetrack and it'll bite you in a heartbeat. It's a fast place. He was down there testing the other day and looked really good. His parents can worry about him more than I do because I think he's got the talent and desire to do it. It's just a matter of getting him in the right equipment and having the right breaks.

Question: Your car owner, Joe Gibbs, is back in the National Football League. How has that changed your race team?

Labonte: Things are just going along fine. There are more people talking about it on the outside than on the inside. What we have is a great group of people that have actually taken over the management role over the past several years. Joe's been there and yet he's been gone too. When Cory was racing, he was busy with that. He was busy doing some things on his own for a while. He was letting himself go from the daily racing stuff even though he was still heavily involved. It's just the day-to-day issues weren't quite as important to him. J.D. and everybody have taken over that and I think they've done a great job. I don't see it missing a beat. We want Joe to be there, but we also want him to do what he wants to do which is to coach the Redskins. He's a phone call away and an hour away by airplane. Honestly, there have been times when I might see him on Sunday morning before the race and then I won't see him until the next Sunday morning. If I went to the shop one day a week, like I usually do, I might not see him then. Hey, it doesn't really change much. I've got his numbers and he's got my numbers. If we need to talk, we can obviously do that.

Question: With the Chase for the Championship, do you start looking at the point standings earlier in the season than before?

Labonte: I think that goes without saying because it's a shorter season for us. You want to get a good head start and not be mired back in points. Your point swing today is a bigger swing than it will be. Later, everyone gets more of a solid base and you won't make that swing so much. So it's important to get up there right now and build on that. You can have a six-week stretch around July where if you finish in the top three six races in a row and your 12th in points, you'll probably be in the Top 10 in points when those races are over. But it's good to get a good start on it.


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