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IMS Brickyard 400 Preview: Terry Labonte

29 July 1997


For Immediate Release

INDIANAPOLIS, July 28, 1997 -- Terry Labonte's stretch run for the
1996 NASCAR Winston Cup championship began with a third-place finish
in the 1996 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Labonte's No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo out of the Hendrick
Motorsports stables had never finished in the top 10 at Indianapolis
until last season. Labonte scored top five finishes in 11 of the final
13 races in '96, giving him a 37-point victory over Hendrick teammate
Jeff Gordon for the '96 title.

Leaving the Brickyard last season with a 61-point lead over Dale
Earnhardt, Labonte held the advantage for the next five races and then
came back to take the lead for good after a third-place showing at
North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham with two races remaining.

Still looking for his first victory in '97, Labonte regained the
points lead again after his seventh-place finish at New Hampshire on
July 13. He held a tenuous three-point advantage over Gordon after 17
of 32 events.

"We were very consistent in the last half of the season in '96, and I
think our finish in the Brickyard 400 went a long way toward helping
us win the championship," Labonte said. "One of our goals for the
season was to finish in the top 10 at the Brickyard. We were able to
do that for the first time, but we were really sweating it."

"I'm not sure we had a third-place car, but we worked on the car every
pit stop and made some chassis adjustments and got better. We were
close at the end. We weren't good enough to win, but we were close."

Labonte has been close in '97 with three runner-up finishes. He
finished second twice at Daytona and scored a runner-up finish in the
inaugural California 500. Labonte leads the circuit with 13 top 10
finishes, and that consistency keeps the 40-year old Corpus Christi,
Texas, native ahead of the pack.

"We knew we had enough fuel to finish the race, and if the caution
hadn't come out, it would probably have come down to us and another
car on gas mileage," Labonte said. "That was our only chance to
win. We gambled a little bit, stayed out and got good track
position. We probably could have won a couple of races already this
season is we had gambled on fuel mileage.  And we could have run out
and ended up looking pretty dumb sitting on the backstretch without
fuel with just a couple of flaps left in the race."

"We want to win a race, and we also want to win the championship
again.  We've got a lot of racing left this season, and I'm not sure
if we can have a streak of top five finishes down the stretch like we
did last year. We're going to try to win some races, and we'd really
like to park our Kellogg's Chevy in victory lane at the
Brickyard. It's one of the biggest races of the season, and it sure
pays a lot of money. I've never won that much money at one time, I'd
really like to see what it feels like."