HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, May 25, 2004 -- The following are Coca-Cola 600 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. COCA-COLA 600 PRE-RACE NOTES: * Labonte will...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, May 25, 2004 -- The following are Coca-Cola 600 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing.
COCA-COLA 600 PRE-RACE NOTES:
* Labonte will attempt to start his 12th Coca-Cola 600. He scored his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in the '600' on May 28, 1995, beating his brother, Terry, by 6.28 seconds.
* The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet will have a special paint scheme featuring the movie "Shrek 2." The movie was No. 1 at the box office last weekend grossing more than $108 million.
* The 600-mile event, the longest in NASCAR racing, has been good to Labonte throughout the years. He has one win, two seconds (1999, 2000), two thirds (1998, 2003, rain-shortened), a fifth (2001), a sixth (1997, rain-shortened) and an eighth (1993).
* In the 11 Coca-Cola 600's Labonte has started, he's failed to finished in the top-eight only three times (1994, 40th; 1996, 22nd; 2002; 14th). Labonte has finished in the top-six in six of the last seven races.
* Labonte has competed in a total of 34 events at Charlotte and has two wins (Spring 1995; Fall, 2000). He has finished in the top five 14 times (41 percent).
* After finishing third at Richmond, Labonte moved up two spots in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, moving from ninth to seventh. He has 1,430 points and is 213 points behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 12 points behind sixth-place Ryan Newman.
* Labonte has six top-10 finishes in 2004 including four consecutive top-10's, (Martinsville, second; Talladega, 10th; California, fifth; Richmond, third). The last time Labonte scored four straight top 10's was April-June of 2003 when he scored six consecutive top-three finishes.
* The primary car for the Coca-Cola 600 will be No. 87, the car Labonte drove to second place with April 21 at Darlington and the car he won the Bud Pole with April 2 at Texas. He finished fifth with the car at May 2 at California and also used the car at the fall race at Atlanta in 2003, where he started second and finished fifth.
* The back-up car is No. 78, the car Labonte used March 7 at Las Vegas, where he started seventh and finished eighth. He also raced the car March 14 at Atlanta where he started 10th and finished 18th. In 2003, the car was used the in the second Atlanta race where Labonte finished fifth. Car No. 78 was also used at both Michigan races and the Kansas race. Labonte won the pole at both Michigan races and finished second in the car in the first Michigan race. He started fourth in the car at Kansas.
COCA-COLA 600 PRE-RACE QUOTE:
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion): "It's an interesting race, because you start it in the late afternoon or early evening, and it finishes at night. The track can change so much during that time that it can be a challenge getting a handle on the setup. It's a long race and the key is to make sure you make it to the end and put yourself in a position to win." (About winning the 1995 race at Charlotte): "I remember being real close to winning races for Joe Gibbs prior to that race. We had finished second like two or three times. We ran good all night, Kenny Schrader blew up and Terry (Labonte) finished second, and we got our first race win. We won two more in about an eight-week span after that, so I think we needed something to break the ice and that did it for us." (About the race being 600 miles): "It's a hard race to win whether it's 400 or 600 miles. Six-hundred miles doesn't seem like that big of a deal when you're in the race car as much as watching it or talking about it."