Bobby labonte's journey comes to an end in Phoenix

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Carries Wounded Warrior Project on his car in his last race behind the wheel

Bobby Labonte's journey behind the wheel of the No. 47 Toyota with JTG Daugherty Racing comes to a close at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has one pole award, three top-five and nine top-10 finishes and has led 68 laps in 29 starts at PIR. His average start is 23.034 and his average finish is 18.448.

Bobby Labonte, Toyota
Bobby Labonte, Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

QUOTES: No. 47 Wounded Warrior Project Toyota: “I think Wounded Warrior Project is a great organization and we are grateful to have them on our Toyota and help raise more awareness,” Labonte said. “It is a great program to help out young men and women that fight for our freedom in a battle where things happen and their lives are changed forever. It is good to have someone to help them through the tough times.”

Phoenix International Raceway: “Obviously, they changed the track a couple years ago and it is a lot more racier," Labonte said. "I really like the track and the area. It is another one of my favorite tracks and areas to visit. We are bringing the car we raced at Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway). It was tore up in that race, but the guys have put it back together right. As far as doing something away from the track, I will probably go hiking in Scottsdale (Ariz.).”

Last race in the No. 47 Toyota: “The last two years the team went out on their own,” Labonte said. “It was without support from being a part of a big organization and that has been tough. The choice they made to go out on their own I supported. They needed to go in that direction. The battle was still to get the team in position to go forward. We went through the trenches together to get there. At the end of the day, I was a part of the puzzle where I got to help put the pieces together where the puzzle did not fall apart. I always woke up everyday and put my best foot forward.”

Appreciative of the support: “We are down to the last race with Bobby and he has meant the world to this company during our transitioning -- growth and building over the last three years,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said. “There is not a better person in the garage that could have helped us go through the transition we have gone through. He has just done a great job and been a great friend. We really want to send him off with a bang this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway with a great finish. He certainly deserves it. We hope he continues to be a part of the organization. We do appreciate all he has done for our company and owe him a big thank you.”

Pleasure to work with Labonte over the years: “It has been a pleasure to have Bobby in our car the past few seasons,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said recently. “He is a true champion and a Hall of Famer. He is a tremendous racecar driver and person. We have leaned on him heavily, as well as, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) in testing parts and pieces. He has been a constant professional and we appreciate him and everything he has done for us.”

It has been a privilege: “In addition to driving our racecar, I have gotten to know Bobby Labonte as a person,” JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Jodi Geschickter said. “Not only is he a great talent behind the wheel, he is also an insightful and intelligent man with an amazing sense of humor and perspective on a wide range of subjects. It has been a privilege to have him in our car and we are grateful for the time he has spent with us.”

Getting to know Labonte: “I would say one thing about Bobby Labonte is that he has achieved all these accolades, he is one of the sports icons that everyone looks up to, but he is about as close as you can you get to your ‘Everyday Joe’,” crew chief Brian Burns said. “He is just a good person all around. He does not try to intimidate you when you speak to him. He is very welcoming and makes you feel relaxed to where you can easily carry on a conversation. He really does care about things people have to say.”

Working with a champion: “Growing up watching racing, a lot of my friends and family were diehard Bobby Labonte fans,” Burns said “I never thought I would end up at this point in my life working with someone everyone idolizes so much.”

A teacher: “I really feel fortunate to have worked with a champion driver like Bobby the past few years,” Burns said. “As a crew chief, you are supposed to teach the driver how to drive the car better, but he has taught me so much more. He has taught me how to become a better crew chief. He has helped me be the best I can be.”

Reflecting on Phoenix: “I was the crew chief in the last six races during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and Phoenix was in that race span,” Burns said. “I remember that race. We had a strong run and that was the point where Bobby’s confidence picked up and our confidence as a team picked up and we started to do well. We are focused on having a strong finish this weekend for Bobby’s last race with us.”

Chassis number: “The last time we raced chassis 703 was Loudon,” Burns said. “He had a good run there until we cut down a tire and that ended our day. Phoenix is a lot like Loudon and we have a good setup for this weekend.”

JTG Daugherty Racing

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Preview
Tags labonte, nascar sprint cup, pir, toyota