NASCAR Infineon diary: Toyota's Bobby Labonte

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NASCAR Infineon diary: Toyota's Bobby Labonte

June 14, 2011NASCAR PAGE NASCAR STANDINGSBOBBY LABONTE PROFILEEditor's Note: As part of the buildup to the June 24-26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Weekend at Infineon Raceway, CSNBayArea.com will feature exclusive diaries from some of stock-car racing's biggest stars. This is our second entry.

Programming Note: Get set for the action on the track with Race Week, Thursday at 6 and 10 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. And don't miss the NASCAR ToyotaSave Mart 350 official preview show at 7 p.m.

Bobby Labonte
Toyota Motorsports

I really enjoy going to Sonoma every year. My family and I have planned to go out early. We will take some time to relax and enjoy the scenery. We are also going to try to fit in a baseball game and then we are thinking about heading south of San Francisco. Before making our way to the track on June 23rd, Im visiting employees at The Clorox Companys headquarters in Oakland. Clorox has been a partner of JTG Daugherty Racing for nearly 15 years. I really enjoy representing and using their brands. If you were to open every cabinet in our North Carolina home, you would find a Clorox product. They are great products to keep our house clean. Right now, my favorite thing is their disinfectant wipes. After the headquarters visit, that same day I will be signing autographs for my fans at Lucky (2355 California Blvd, Napa) from 3 to 4 p.m. Pacific. Then I will make my way to Infineon Raceway. I really do like Infineon. Its a great area and a neat track. This will be good for our team because it is an equalizer for our aero package -- the lack of aero that we have been missing out on for some reason or another this season. Aerodynamics is not as important there.
RELATED: Casey Mears' NASCAR Infineon diary
Infineon definitely is a track that tests your body and your mind. It takes everything you have in you to complete the race without getting off track -- which is a struggle for some. There are a lot of things that can happen and strategy plays a big role. Its a great skill-set type of track where youve got to have everything together and the drivers got to be doing things different than what he is used to. Going to a road course will be a nice change from the norm. Weve had our challenges at tracks where aero comes into play. So far this season, we have run 20th or 25th at some places where we expected to finish better. We have noticed areas that need improvement and we are addressing the issues to make it better. While our team is trying to find a good balance for our Camry, its just as important for each of us as individuals to balance our lives away from the track. That good balance starts at the top. For me, you have to have an understanding wife and family and it trickles down from there. Being away from your family is one of the hardest things. For example, tonight I have date night with my wife and tomorrow we have a family cookout. You take advantage of the time you have together whether its two hours here, four hours there to spend with your kids and your wife. The key is to balance all that with your job and include them in things you do. Im not the best at it, but I try to be.Also, weve had some big events recently with The Bobby Labonte Foundation (BLF) where we have enjoyed dedicating our time. Its been a busy April, May and June. There was our Share the Road Memorial Ride cycling event at the end of April that began in Archdale, N.C. Even though it was a dreary day, we had 144 cyclists show up. We raised money for the Habitat for Humanity in High Point, Archdale and Trinity N.C., and also for the Bikes Belong Foundation. Following the cycling event, we did a tornado relief drive after tornadoes hit eastern N.C. We were able to provide over 2,900 meals for people who are still in need. Its hard to fathom that because we are in the High Point, Greensboro, N.C. area and the tornadoes did not hit here. Its not something we see every day, but those people are still affected. BLF also held a golf tournament for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) a week ago and we were able to raise over 100,000. Also, last week we visited a very special place in Statesville, N.C. We went to Barium Springs Home for Children in hopes of bringing awareness to local children who struggle with a background of abuse, neglect and poverty. I took my wife with me, which I really wanted her to go. She was asking all kinds of questions like How do you foster a child, how do you do this and how do you do that? We were all moved tremendously by our visit with the kids that we met. The stories that we heard before we went there really affected us. It was a case where, Hey, this is in our backyard. I mean really in our backyard. To see some of these kids that were abandoned for whatever reason at a young age is crazy -- crazy to think that actually happened and can happen or does happen. You feel for the kids and the families and what they are going through. We enjoyed every minute of our visit and hope to bring awareness through our media outreach to the school, which faces a 1.5 million dollar deficit. For more information on how to donate or help, please visit www.BariumSprings.org. To conclude, its been an awesome year reaching out into the community and we couldnt have done it without support from our fans, sponsors and the NASCAR community. They have helped us help people in need.

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

Sharks need to 'figure it out pretty soon' after another thrashing

NASHVILLE – Apparently, one wake up call wasn’t good enough for the plummeting San Jose Sharks.
 
Just one day after suffering what was arguably their worst game under coach Pete DeBoer, Nashville put up a touchdown on the Sharks in a 7-2 win, giving San Jose its sixth straight defeat – all in regulation.
 
After getting outscored 13-3 the last two nights, including Friday’s 6-1 loss in Dallas, where do they go from here?
 
“In two years, last year and this year so far, we haven’t had one night like this almost. Now we have back-to-back nights,” Joe Pavelski said. “I think it’s just a reality check. A gut-check time.
 
“It’s on us as players. Bottom line is we haven’t put the effort in that we need to have right now, and it snowballed on us a little bit at times. I think we’ve got to take a deep breath and really take a look in the mirror, refocus a little bit and understand there’s hockey out there, but it’s not going to fix itself.”
 
What has to be fixed immediately is the defensive structure that has been so vital to the Sharks’ success in the Pete DeBoer era. Even when the club was going through stretches of struggling to score, as it was earlier in the season, it was still collecting points in the standings with its ability to limit the opposition’s scoring chances.
 
While the game against the Predators was actually a little better in that regard, believe it or not, it was still nowhere near the level it needs to be for the postseason. Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s absence was partly to blame for that, but the Brent Burns-Paul Martin pair has been a disaster lately. Both have a minus-nine rating during the six-game losing streak, and that number is indicative of how they’ve looked, too.
 
“We’re giving up some goals. It’s a combination of things,” DeBoer said. “Obviously it’s not good enough to win games, so we’ve got to figure it out. I don’t have an answer standing here for you, but I know our group. Every team I’ve ever coached has a tough part of the season. This is obviously ours. We’ll regroup, and figure it out.”
 
Burns, who admitted to a “bad read” on Nashville’s second goal when Roman Josi sped around him, said: “It’s a tough league when you’re not executing little things.”
 
The Sharks actually looked strong early, poised to put the Dallas disaster behind them. The first few shifts, they had the puck in the Nashville end.
 
But Tomas Hertl was outmuscled behind the net by Colin Wilson on Colton Sissons’ goal at 4:14, Burns got beat on the second, and the Sharks never recovered. Patrick Marleau’s second period power play goal offered life, but that was extinguished 24 seconds later when James Neal answered with a power play goal of his own. The Sharks never got closer than two goals after that.
 
“When things are going bad, those are the things that are happening,” Burns said of Neal’s response to Marleau’s marker. “So, you’ve just got work through it."
 
Will they be able to work through it with just seven games left in the regular season, though? That this cold spell is happening in late March doesn’t speak well to the Sharks’ chances in the postseason, which begins in just two-and-a-half weeks.
 
Burns said: “Right now we should be just tightening up everything. … We've got figure it out pretty soon.”

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

Sharks forward Haley could face supplemental discipline from NHL

NASHVILLE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley could be in line for supplemental discipline from the league, after earning a match penalty in the third period of Saturday’s 7-2 loss in Nashville.
 
After absorbing a borderline hit from behind by Calle Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame, with the Sharks trailing 5-2 at the time.
 
Naturally, there were differing opinions from the two head coaches on the play.
 
Pete DeBoer said: “When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth.”
 
Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters: "It's an ugly play. This isn't the wild, wild west. I mean, Calle hit him. We took a penalty. If we start doing that, we're in trouble, so hopefully it gets looked at."

The Sharks denied a request to make Haley available to reporters after the game.
 
Any player who earns a match penalty "shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the commissioner has ruled on the issue,” according to league rules.
 
In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.
 
Jarnkrok did not return after the punch, but told reporters after the game he felt “OK.”
 
"I feel pretty good," Jarnkrok said. "Obviously, I saw him coming. There were a couple other guys coming, too. I didn't really know what to do. He got in a good punch on me.”