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NASCAR BGN Series Gateway 300 Preview -- #44, Bobby Labonte

23 July 1997

 #44 Bobby Labonte, Shell Oil Pontiac Grand Prix                
 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division
 Gateway 300 Advance              
 Gateway International Raceway

MADISON, IL - Bobby Labonte and the Shell Oil Racing Team have one mission in 
Saturday's Gateway 300 and the Gateway International Raceway -- win. The 
driver of the Shell Oil Pontiac is optimistic about his chances at the 1.25 
mile speedway located just minutes from downtown St. Louis.

"I think we will be competitive in the Gateway 300," Labonte said. "All the 
guys on the team have been working very hard on our Busch program all year 
and lately we've been seeing the results. We won earlier this year at Dover 
Downs, which gave everyone on the team a tremendous psychological lift.

"Last year we won only one race. But we started up front every week, led 
laps, and came close to winning several races. This year, we've struggled 
just about everywhere we've been. We've had trouble finishing races. And then 
we go to Dover and have a perfect day. To me, that says a lot about the 
caliber of people we have working on this team. All the guys dug in and 
worked harder when things weren't going good."

Labonte plans to approach the 1.25 mile speedway like a student: pay 
attention and try to quickly learn as much as possible.

"I'm sure the first practice session will be a true learning experience," 
Labonte said. "We didn't have an opportunity to go test, but I don't think a 
lot of the other Busch guys did either. We'll use the first day as a learning 
experience and try to get used to the track. All we can do is get to the 
track and take things one step at a time."

The Gateway 300 will be an unusual situation for the Busch teams since no 
driver has any laps on the track under race conditions. All drivers entered 
in the event will have limited practice time on the track, which will make 
for an intense qualifying session on Friday afternoon.

By Camp & Associates, Inc.