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NASCAR Winston Cup Series UAW-GM Quality 500 Report: #18, Bobby Labonte

6 October 1997

 #18 Bobby Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 UAW-GM Quality 500 Race Report
 Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, NC - Bobby Labonte's rollercoaster day in Sunday's UAW-GM 500
at Charlotte Motor Speedway finished on a positive note for the driver
of the Interstate Batteries Pontiac. Labonte owned the fastest car
throughout much of the event but had to overcome a spin early in the
race and engine problems down the stretch to finish a strong second to
winner Dale Jarrett.

Labonte dominated the early stages of the event, building up a seven
second lead over second place Mark Martin at the 100 lap mark. Labonte
encountered problems on lap 103 when he hit oil in turn 2 and
spun. The accident collected the cars of Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd,
Kevin Lepage and Jimmy Spencer. The spin dropped the driver of the
Interstate Batteries Pontiac to 15th position at the time, the last
car on the lead lap. Labonte was able to charge back to the front of
the pack, working his way into the top-10 by lap 130. He grabbed the
lead following a round of green flag pit stops on lap 232. He held the
top spot for the next 52 laps until eventual winner Dale Jarrett eased
by on lap 277.

"The spin didn't hurt us at all," Labonte said. "I knew somebody was
in the wall, but I didn't know there was oil over there in turn
two. When I got there, I was pretty much OK, but a couple of cars
locked up their brakes in front of me and I had to lock it up too. I
got into the oil a little bit and spun around. That didn't cost me the
win. We had a lot of guys a lap down, but it didn't cost us the
win. The spin just cost us track position. We got back to the front
later on, but Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt were strong at the end.

"The car started missing with about 60 laps to go. I switched ignition
boxes, hoping that would cure the problem, but it still acted like it
was running on seven cylinders. We looked at the car after the race
and found out we had a cracked cylinder head.

"My car was loose at the beginning of a run. We had a good car. I
could run when I was by myself, but I got in some traffic and that
killed me. Earnhardt came up on me and I just had to let him go. I
couldn't even race. At the end of the run it got better, and that was
just because it got a little tighter again. We had a really good race
car. It just wasn't meant to be."

Labonte remains seventh in the Winston Cup Series championship
standings, 746 points behind leader Jeff Gordon. He trails sixth place
Terry Labonte by 99 and leads eighth place Bill Elliott by 100 points.

By Camp & Associates, Inc.