NASCAR Winston Cup Series ACDelco 400 Report: #18, Bobby Labonte
29 October 1997
#18 Bobby Labonte, Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix NASCAR Winston Cup Series ACDelco 400 Race Report North Carolina Motor Speedway October 27, 1997 THIRD POLE OF '97 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS ROCKINGHAM WEEKEND FOR LABONTE, INTERSTATE TEAM ROCKINGHAM, NC - Bobby Labonte won his third pole position of the 1997 season during time trials for the ACDelco 400 at North Carolina Motor Speedway. Labonte pushed the Interstate Batteries Pontiac to a lap of 23.365 seconds, 156.696 mph. He edged Dale Jarrett by just 0.026 second to grab the top starting spot. "I figured we'd get beat by somebody," Labonte said after his qualifying run. "It was just one of those deals where we had a really good race car. We were awesome when we rolled off the truck. Our car got better each time out, and when it's like that you're going to win some poles. That's one of the good feelings you get in racing. "We tested down here the other day and ran really good. We don't feel like this is any different than any other race track. We have a good set-up here. The last time we were here we qualified second, and the time before we were third. We know when we come here we're going to start off pretty decent and get it better." Labonte had a tough afternoon in the race. He passed leader Dale Jarrett on lap 16 and led the next 58 laps before making his first scheduled pit stop of the day under green on lap 75. Labonte returned to the race lead after the cycle of green flag stops on lap 89. He held the lead through a second round of pit stops, this time under caution, on lap 119. When the race went green a couple of laps later, Labonte began dropping back due to an ill-handling car. He finished 11th, one lap down to race winner Bobby Hamilton. "We started off good and then after our second pit stop the car was terrible," Labonte said. "The car was way too tight and when we came in to loosen it up the car got way too loose. We went from one extreme to the other. I don't understand why the car would get that bad that quick. I do know one thing: my car was evil for about half the race. We were lucky to get a decent finish and not lose any points." Labonte remains seventh in the NASCAR Winston Cup championship standings, 664 points behind leader Jeff Gordon. He trails sixth place Dale Earnhardt by 114 and leads eighth place Bill Elliott by 159 points. The Interstate Batteries Racing Team finished third in the Union 76 Pit Crew race Saturday in Rockingham. The team changed four tires and filled the car full of gas in 21.096 seconds. Bill Elliott's team won the competition with a stop of 20.870. By Camp & Associates, Inc.