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NASCAR SPOTLIGHT

Terry Labonte drives the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy Monte Carlo. He leads the Winston Cup standings by 12 points over Dale Earnhardt.

Q: You're leading the series standings and you're about to turn 40 (in November). Is that a stock car driver's prime?

A: Well, it seems like with the exception of Jeff (Gordon) and some of the other guys, most of the guys that are around 40 years or older are the guys who are winning races or running up front. Experience is such a key in our sport. I sure don't think it's a disadvantage being that old.

Q: You haven't led the series standings since 1985. Did you ever doubt whether you'd get back atop the standings again?

A: You know, timing is pretty important in our sport and you've got to be with good people and have a good team behind you to be successful. You know, I went through a few years there where we didn't really have the sponsorship money that we needed, couldn't hire the people that we needed. It makes a tremendous difference in our sport.

Q: Now that you're leading the standings, does your team's strategy change?

A: Well, not really. You have to keep doing the same things that got you to the points lead or close to it. But on the other hand, you do have to be aware of the other guys you're running against in the points race and keep track of what they're doing. You don't want it to come down to a situation where late in the race the guy you're next to in the points is just going to stop for gas and you're going to get four tires and he's going to get a lot of track position.

Q: With a new race in Texas next season and another planned for the new California track, are you leery of running too many Winston Cup races?

A: You're talking to somebody who probably ran in 55 races last year. I wouldn't have a problem running 34 or 35 Winston Cup races at all. I think the problem comes in back at the shop because it costs more money to run more races. I think that's one thing everybody has to keep in mind.

_ DARRELL FRY

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