Homestead: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004 -- The following are Ford 400 and Ford 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (NEXTEL Cup) and No. 47 Acxiom Chevrolet ...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004 -- The following are Ford 400 and Ford 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (NEXTEL Cup) and No. 47 Acxiom Chevrolet Silverado (Craftsman Trucks) for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports:

FORD 400 PRE-RACE NOTES:

* Labonte will attempt to start his sixth NEXTEL Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He won the 2003 event when Bill Elliott cut a tire on the final lap exiting Turn 2.

* In five starts at HMS, Labonte has finished outside of the top-10 only once (29th, 2002). He has four top-10 finishes, including five top-fives (second, 1999; fourth, 2000; first, 2003)

*On Nov. 12, 2000, Labonte started third and finished second at Homestead and clinched the 2000 NEXTEL Cup Championship.

*Labonte has yet to score a victory in 2004. However, in 1996 and 1997 he entered the final race of the season at Atlanta without a victory and won each event.

*Labonte has five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 2004.

*Labonte finished ninth Nov. 14 at Darlington Raceway, his second consecutive top 10 finish. He moved up two spots in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, moving from 15th to 13th, ahead of Dale Jarrett and Kevin Harvick. Labonte has 4,145 points, 80 points behind 12th-place Kasey Kahne and 22 points ahead of Jarrett.

*The primary car for the Ford 400 is chassis No. 62, the car Labonte drove in All-Star events at Charlotte in 2003 (third-place finish) and 2004 (13th-place finish). The car was also used at the first Pocono event in 2003 when Labonte finished 16th. Labonte used the car on Oct. 10 at Kansas where he started fifth and finished 16th.

*The back-up car will be No. 78, the car Labonte used June 13 and Aug. 1 at Pocono when he finished third and 29th (accident), respectively. He also used the car March 7 at Las Vegas, where he started seventh and finished eighth and March 14 at Atlanta where he started 10th and finished 18th. The car was used Sept. 19 at New Hampshire when Labonte started 13th and finished 18th and Oct. 16 when he started 34th and finished 17th. In 2003, the car was used the in the second Atlanta race where Labonte finished fifth. Chassis No. 78 was also used at both Michigan races and the Kansas race. Labonte won the pole for both races at historic Michigan International Speedway and finished second in the car in the first Michigan race. He started fourth in the car at Kansas.

FORD 200 PRE-RACE NOTES:

*Labonte will attempt to start his third career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event, and his second of the season, driving the No. 47 Acxiom Chevrolet Silverado for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports.

*On Oct. 23, Labonte started 35th and finished third in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway. Labonte started from the rear of the field because qualifying was canceled due to rain. He worked his way up through the field and finished behind Jamie McMurray and his Morgan-Dollar teammate Dennis Setzer.

*In his only other truck series start, Labonte started 24th and finished 34th in the No. 77 Rotary Lift Chevrolet on Oct. 26, 1996 in the GM Goodwrench 300 at Phoenix International Raceway. He completed only 31 of the 186 laps after a valve problem ended his day.

*Some interesting names appear in the box score from Labonte's first truck series start. Jack Sprague won the event, while Johnny Benson, Joe Ruttman, Mike Skinner and Ted Musgrave rounded out the top-five. All but Ruttman are regulars in the 2004 Craftsman Truck Series. Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 1972 Daytona 500 champion A.J. Foyt participated in the race, as did NASCAR legend Harry Gant. Robbie Rieser, who now serves as Matt Kenseth's NEXTEL Cup crew chief, also drove in the event.

*Labonte and Setzer, who will be teammates this weekend in the truck race, competed against each other several times in late-models at Caraway Speedway in Ashboro, N.C. Labonte won the track championship in 1987, while Setzer won three consecutive championship from 1988-90.

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; No. 47 Acxiom Chevrolet Silverado; 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion): "We tested down at Homestead last week. The track's changed a little bit, grayed up a little bit. Last year the asphalt was so new, they're really wasn't a visible groove, because it was so black. Now, you can kind of see a grove and a little bit of a second grove in the corners. It's a good track and it's been a good track to us, no matter what the configuration has been." (About getting a win in the 2004 season): "It's important to get a win, not so much for keeping a streak alive or anything like that, but more just to get a win. We've struggled this year, obviously, and it'd be nice to finish out strong. We enter the '96 and '97 season finales without wins and won both of those races, so I'd like to do that again." (About the truck race): "I think it will be a fun deal to run the Chevy Silverado at Homestead. I had a great time running with those guys are Martinsville when we finished third. I like working with Randy (Goss, crew chief) and being a teammate to Dennis. It just a fun group of guys to be around. We won at Homestead last year in our Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, so, hopefully, we can get our first truck win down there. I'm looking forward to it."

-jc-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Jamie McMurray , Joe Ruttman , Kasey Kahne , Harry Gant , A.J. Foyt
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing