Labonte Brothers, Herta, Magnussen Finish Ninth at Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005 -- Bobby Labonte, who teamed with his brother, Terry, IRL IndyCar Series standout Bryan Herta and road-racing superstar Jan ...
Labonte Brothers, Herta, Magnussen Finish Ninth at Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005 -- Bobby Labonte, who teamed with his brother, Terry, IRL IndyCar Series standout Bryan Herta and road-racing superstar Jan Magnussen finished 9th in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona Feb. 5-6 at Daytona International Speedway.
The No. 44 Doran Labonte Racing Pontiac broke a drive train with less than 30 minutes to go, while Herta was piloting the car in eighth place. Due to the mechanical problem, the car fell to ninth. The No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac driven by Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Emmanuel Collard won the event.
It was the first Rolex 24 Hour race at Daytona for Bobby Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion.
"I had a blast," Labonte said. "It was great teaming with Terry, obviously, but also Bryan and Jan. They're both great drivers and I think we all had a great time working together. We stayed out of trouble for the most part and finished well, even with the drive train problem."
The team was in fourth place and only four laps behind the leaders as the sun began to rise above racetrack at around 7 a.m. in the second half of the race. Magnussen was the fastest car on the track by one or two seconds per lap, but, unfortunately, just after 7 a.m., the gearbox on the car malfunctioned and the team spent nearly 30 minutes in the garage area replacing the gearbox. The team returned to the race in seventh place, 20 laps behind the leaders.
Labonte drove four stints in the race, 3:15-4:30 p.m., 9-10:15 p.m., 3-4:45 a.m. and 9:10-9:50 a.m. His only mishap throughout the weekend was a spin in Turn 6 during his second stint.
"I got into the gas a little too quick and spun on cold tires," Labonte said. "But, we were able to recover. I would have liked to have been a little faster and a little more consistent, but I learned a lot and had a great time.
"The race is pretty interesting. So much can happen, and you've got so much time to make up for a mistake. It's just something I've never experienced before. You get introduced on the grid, then, unless you are in the first stint, you wait three or four hours to get in the car. Then you drive for an hour or two, stop, get out, go relax for a few hours and then do it again. Obviously, it's totally different from what we do in the Cup car."
Labonte will compete in two more Grand American Rolex Series events in 2005. He will return to Daytona in July for the Paul Revere 250 June 29-30 as part of Pepsi 400 weekend and also race Aug. 11-12 at Watkins Glen, N.Y. as part of the NASCAR weekend.
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season kicks off with the non-points paying Bud Shootout Feb. 12 at Daytona, followed by the 47th Daytona 500 Feb. 20.