Bobby Labonte Unlucky at The Rock
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 23, 1998)
Bobby Labonte and the Interstate Batteries racing team found the going downright harsh during Sunday's GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at North Carolina Speedway. The team struggled from the moment practice opened at the track Friday morning until Labonte's day ended with only 27 laps remaining in the event Sunday.
During Bud Pole Qualifying, Labonte was 40th with a speed of 153.041 mph. He was unable to better the time during Bud Second-Round Qualifying on Saturday morning and used a provisional starting position to start the event 38th.
Labonte and the team were having a solid run in the race until he was involved in the sixth and final caution on lap 366 of the 393-lap event. He had climbed from his 38th starting position to run in the top-20, one lap down to the race leaders. The melee started when Ernie Irvan, on the tail end of the lead lap and trying to stay ahead of race leader Jeff Gordon, bumped Raybestos Rookie candidate Steve Park. That triggered an eight-car accident that ended Labonte's day.
"We were in the wrong place at the wrong time," Labonte said. "I was in the middle of the field and had no place to go. It killed the right front. We had a bad weekend. We'll bounce back strong at Las Vegas this weekend."
Labonte was credited with a 33rd-place finish and now stands 13th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings. He trails point leader Rusty Wallace by 96, and 10th-place Irvan by 17 points. Labonte is scheduled to fly with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds on Wednesday morning in Las Vegas. The unit's base is adjacent to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Courtesy of NASCAR Online