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NASCAR Winston Cup Series DieHard 500: Post-Race Quotes (Pontiac Drivers)

13 October 1997

 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Pontiac Race Quotes
 DieHard 500
 Talladega Superspeedway
 October 12, 1997

TALLADEGA, AL - The following provided by Performance Marketing Group:
NOTE: Bobby Labonte's second-place run is Pontiac's best ever finish in a
restrictor-plate race. It was Labonte's second consecutive second-place
finish. In the last four races, the highest finishing Pontiac has placed
third, third, second, and second. Pontiac now has 15 top-five finishes after
29 races, compared to four at the same time last year. Pontiac has 46 top-10
finishes, compared to 26 at the same time last season.
BOBBY LABONTE (#18 Interstate Batteries Grand Prix) - Started 7th, finished
2nd - "Kenny, Terry, and I stayed in line there for a long time, just trying
to race. Some cars got out of there and we wanted to stay as close as we
could together, single file. I was behind Terry when the Fords got up there,
and that messed our little plan up. Anyway, I still got behind Terry and
helped him a little bit get by Schrader, and John helped me a little bit to
get back to Schrader. It was pretty fast company.
"I think I needed one more lap (to get by Terry), because the 98 (Andretti)
was coming up awfully strong. I think he would have helped me because I
helped him a little earlier. We (Terry and Bobby) had a plan. We had already
figured out when we were going to go. It just didn't quite work out. It
worked out for Terry, but it didn't work out for me. I was going to help
Terry anyway, especially when it turned out I ended up behind him after John
and Ernie came up there.
"Terry's car was really strong, and John's car was exceptionally strong. Our
guys worked really hard this week on our Pontiac. It was good when we
unloaded off the truck. That was the big key. It was a really good race car.
The same car we finished third with in the spring.
"I hope a win is around the corner. We're staying down here tomorrow to run
around a little bit. We're going to Rockingham to test on Wednesday. Two
seconds don't hurt. The wreck was good for us, because we didn't need to be
racing 25 cars at the end. The chances of finishing second or top-five
would have been a lot less. Unfortunately, it had to happen. Last time here
we ran the whole race under green and it was great. Those things happen the
way we're all running so close. It made it a five- or six- or seven-car
battle at the end instead of a 20-car battle. We took advantage of the
situation and made the best of it."
KYLE PETTY (#44 Hot Wheels Grand Prix) - Started 42nd, finished 7th - NOTE:
Today's seventh-place run was Kyle Petty's third top-10 run in his last four
starts. - "We were weak, real weak. We've got to regroup on our
superspeedway engine program. We probably had a good top-25 car today. We
just had really, really good pit stops. We'd be 25th and come out of the
pits 20th. We got up in there and my amp gauge went bad and I thought my
battery was going dead. We came in and changed batteries and I went all the
way to the back. Unless I had somebody behind me to push me, I couldn't run
a lick. I all but got lapped. Caution came out and Terry was right on my
bumper. Benson saved me then because he was faster than me and pulling me
around the race track. At the end we were up there because there were a lot
of wrecked cars out of the race. I don't care where Bobby Hamilton drives
next year, I owe him for that one (pushing him at the end in the draft). I
owe Bobby Hamilton a thank you, I owe Rick Mast a thank you, and I owe
Johnny Benson a thank you. I owe Terry Labonte a big thank-you because he
didn't lap me. I owe the guys that work on this car a big thank you because
we were the slowest car here from the time we unloaded."
MORGAN SHEPHERD (#1 R&L Carriers Grand Prix) - Started 29th, finished 12th -
"The cloud cover hurt us. After we ran a good while the track would come to
us after the cars got to slipping a little bit. Our chassis was really good
except for one time there when we had a tire equalized or something. That's
when I fell way back there and I was bouncing around real bad. We managed to
hang on until we got that off. I knew that we were probably in trouble when
we got to second because our car wasn't taking off good. I knew if I could
keep somebody behind me I could stay there, but I had to have someone behind
me. If they ganged up on me and would go by me, they shuffled me on back. I
didn't have enough stuff to really keep it there. If the sun would have
stayed out, real good and hot, we would have cooked 'em on long runs. That
cloud cover kind of did us in."
JOHNNY BENSON (#30 Pennzoil Grand Prix) - Started 19th, finished 19th - "I
guess we left a tire off (loose lug nuts forced him to pit under green). I
guess we thought it might be a little lighter without one. That cost us
dearly. It almost got us two laps down. Had that big wreck not happened, we
would have been two laps down. I hate to see the wreck, but it saved us. We
still finished a lap down, and that isn't any good. We came home in one
piece. If we hadn't left the lugs loose, we would have been fine. I think we
could have finished in the top-10, but that's woulda, coulda, shoulda."