BUSCH: Phoenix II: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005 -- The following are Checker Auto Parts 500 and Phoenix 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries/Madagascar Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) for Joe Gibbs Racing,...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005 -- The following are Checker Auto Parts 500 and Phoenix 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries/Madagascar Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) for Joe Gibbs Racing, and the No. 19 SlimJim Chevrolet (Busch Series) for Joe Gibbs Racing.

CHECKER AUTO PARTS 500 PRE-RACE NOTES:

Labonte will attempt to start his 14th NEXTEL Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. He has never won at Phoenix and his best finish was third in 1999. He won the Bud Pole for the 1996 race.

Labonte has six top-10 finishes at PIR (eighth, 1993; ninth, 1996; third, 1999; fifth, 2000; ninth, 2004; sixth, spring 2005).

On April 23, Labonte has one of his best races of the season, starting fourth and finishing sixth in the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix

Labonte is 25th in the NEXTEL Cup point standings. He has 3,272points and is 40 points behind Michael Waltrip.

The primary car for the Checker Auto Parts 500 is chassis No. 84, the car Labonte drove to third-place in July at New Hampshire. The car was also used earlier in the year to finish sixth at Phoenix (spring), eighth at Richmond (spring) and 24th at New Hampshire (fall). In 2004, the car was used at: Martinsville 1 (second), Richmond 1 (third), Richmond 2 (16th), New Hampshire 1 (17th), and Martinsville 2 (18th). In 2003, the car was driven by Labonte in fall races at New Hampshire (16th) and Martinsville (41st). It was also driven at Phoenix (36th, accident).

The back-up car will be No. 85, which was used in 2004 at Phoenix where Labonte started 27th and finished ninth. The only other time the car was used was in 2003 at Indianapolis when Labonte started eighth and finished 22nd.

PHOENIX 200 PRE-RACE NOTES:

The Phoenix 200 is the last of eight Busch Series races the Labonte will compete in for Joe Gibbs Racing and ConAgra Foods. Labonte finished sixth at Charlotte, 16th at Chicagoland, seventh at Michigan, 10th at Bristol, eighth at Richmond, 37th at Kansas (mechanical) and 12th at Texas. Labonte has 171 starts in Busch Series competition and has scored nine wins, 48 top-fives and 93 top-10 finishes. He has finished in the top-10 in 54 percent of his Busch Series starts.

Labonte won the 1991 Busch Series championship on the strength of two wins and 21 top-five finishes. He lost the 1992 title by just three points to Joe Nemechek. The three-point margin is the closest points finish in the history of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series or Craftsman Truck Series competition.

Labonte made his Busch Series debut in 1982 at Martinsville Speedway. He finished 30th and won $220. He then competed in the two races in 1985, six in 1988 and seven in 1989 before competing full-time for the first time in 1990.

Labonte's last Busch Series victory came in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 March 21, 1998 at Darlington Raceway in the No. 44 Shell Pontiac.

SlimJim, a longtime sponsor of both Terry and Bobby Labonte, will be the primary sponsor on the No. 19 Chevrolet this week.

PHOENIX PRE-RACE QUOTE:

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries/Madagascar Chevrolet; No. 19 SlimJim Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion, 1991 Busch Series Champion): "We had a good run at Phoenix in the spring and we've always run pretty well at Homestead, so I'm looking forward to the final two races. We had a really good run at Phoenix in the spring, so hopefully we can do well there on Sunday. We're running our final Busch race of the year for ConAgra Foods in the SlimJim cars. We've come close to getting a victory for them and I'd really like to get one for them since this is the last race of the year. We've only got to races left in the Interstate Batteries Chevy and I'd like to get another win for everybody involved in the program. That'd be a great way to go out."

-jgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Joe Nemechek
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing