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NASCAR BGN Detroit Gasket 200 Preview: #44, Bobby Labonte

14 August 1997

 #44 Bobby Labonte, Shell Oil Pontiac Grand Prix 
 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division
 Detroit Gasket 200 Advance
 Michigan Speedway


BROOKLYN, MI - The 1994 Detroit Gasket 200 at Michigan Speedway was a turning 
point for Bobby Labonte. The driver of the Shell Oil Pontiac was struggling 
through his sophomore season in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, but his career and 
confidence got a needed boost when he took the checkered flag in the Busch 
Series event at Michigan Speedway.

"Until I won that Busch race at Michigan, I never ran good on that race 
track," Labonte said. "I remember the first time I went there, it had to be 
my worst track. I didn't drive the car into the corners deep enough and I 
didn't get a good feel. But that weekend I finally figured out how to get 
around the place. I won the Busch race on Saturday and finished fifth in the 
Winston Cup race on Sunday."

Shell Oil Racing Team crew chief Bryant Frazier is optimistic about his 
team's chances in Saturday's race.

"I feel like we'll be bad fast at Michigan," Frazier said. "I'm very 
optimistic about our chances to win the race. We will be running an engine 
from Joe Gibbs Racing in our car for the first time this season so we know we 
won't be short on horsepower. The car we're taking is the same car we ran at 
Charlotte. The only thing we did to the car was pack the wheel bearings. I 
think we should be a factor for the pole and for the win."

The Shell team has won one race this season, but for the most part the season 
has been frustrating. Labonte and the team have battled inconsistency 
throughout the season. In his most recent Busch Series start, Labonte was 
leading the Gateway 300 at St. Louis when he hit the wall with just 32 laps 

"We've had our ups and downs this year," Labonte said. "I thought we were in 
great shape to win the race in St. Louis and then the next thing I know we're 
in the fence. We've had parts break and there have been times when we just 
missed the set-up. Then we go to Dover and win the race. We've been 
inconsistent, but I think we can turn that around this weekend at Michigan."

By Camp & Associates, Inc.