Martinsville Roll For Labonte

Martinsville Speedway and Bobby Labonte go pretty well together.

In the veteran's last 18 appearances at the half-mile Virginia track, he's visited Victory Lane once and scored 10 top-10 finishes.

Labonte finished third the last time the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series visited Martinsville last October and looks for another successful run this weekend.

But it will be a whole new ballgame for Labonte and the rest of the field as the "Car of Tomorrow" makes its first-ever Martinsville appearance.

"This new generation car is going to react differently at Martinsville," Lanonte said. "The cars will slow down a little bit more because there is more 'drag' on these cars. It will react a little bit more like the Craftsman Truck Series trucks do. But, the trucks don't run 500 laps. The brake ducts that we run and the inlets that we use, the brakes have gotten a lot better, but it's possible we could see more problems than we've seen in the past."

Labonte finished 22nd in his COT debut last week at Bristol, where he said some knowledge was gained, but there is still a lot to learn.

"We know a little bit more about our Dodge Avenger now since we came away from Bristol," he said. "We don't know everything we need to know, but at least we know more. Everyone learned something or took something away from Bristol. We have a starting point, but Martinsville is a whole lot different than Bristol. Martinsville is a place where it's about keeping your fenders clean and using a lot of brakes."

With a solid track record at Martinsville over his career, Labonte brings some confidence into this weekend's race. He's climbed up to 14th in the point standings, but knows it won't be easy to maintain his position with 500 grueling laps ahead on Sunday.

"Like Bristol was, Sunday's race will still be a typical Martinsville race," he said. "It's still going to be hard to pass on the outside. It's really hard to do that. The only time you could pass on the outside was when they 'grooved' it. That made it more slippery on the bottom and better up top. That just made everyone race up top. Now everyone is back on the bottom. The top is a longer line around the track. You can pass a wounded guy on the outside, but you better plan on doing your work on the bottom."

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