LABONTE SITS ONE POINT OUT OF FIRST IN CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS ENTERING SECOND RACE OF NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES SEASON AT PHOENIX
PHOENIX, Ariz. (February 22, 2011) - - "We almost won the Daytona 500" were words that JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter uttered to Bobby Labonte and his team on pit road following the 53rd running of The Great American Race on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
"We're big believers in Bobby Labonte," Geschickter said. "He put us in position to have a shot at winning the Daytona 500. We know when you are there in position on the last corner to win, anything can happen. I was thinking at that very moment that this is perfect and I think we have a shot to win, but if we can't win, we would be glad to see our friends at Wood Brothers win."
"We came home with a top-five finish and all the guys did a great job from start to finish," Labonte added. "At the same time, I'm disappointed we didn't win and it's going to bother me for a little bit. I stayed with Trevor (Bayne) as hard as I could. We got into three and the 99 (Carl Edwards) was coming my spotter said. He had a full head of steam. I didn't want to get run over either. I thought maybe at one point in time the 99 could get up there behind me and I could go to the outside of the 21 (Bayne), but it just didn't work out. Congratulations to Trevor and Wood Brothers on the victory."
Geschickter and crew chief Frank Kerr huddled up the team at lunch today to momentarily reflect 'what might have been' and congratulate everyone on a job well done.
"It's gratifying to see the group of people we have in place starting to see the fruits of their hard work," Geschickter said.
"Bobby's a champion and he showed his experience at Daytona," Kerr commented. "He picked the right time to move up and we led laps. We had a chance to win in the end. It was just an unfortunate set of circumstances. We were going to try to get around the 21, but the 99 and 34 (David Gilliland) had such a strong run."
Now, the focus is Phoenix International Raceway. Entering the second race, Labonte is tied for second (David Gilliland) in the points standings and is only one point behind points leader Carl Edwards.
"I know it's the first race, but we are heading into Phoenix tied for second in the points," Kerr said. "Last weekend, was an overall 'A' effort for the team -- from the pit crew, the shop guys to the road guys, everyone did well. Now, we are focused on doing just as well at Phoenix. We're all pleased with how things are progressing and it's good to see a bounce in Bobby's step after Daytona."
It's another big weekend for JTG Daugherty Racing and the No. 47 Toyota Camry team as Clorox® launches their first of six primary races beginning at Phoenix International Raceway. They are also slated to prominently be displayed at Kansas Speedway (June), Pocono Raceway (June), Infineon Raceway, Texas Motor Speedway (October), and Phoenix International Raceway (November).
"The Clorox Company has a longstanding partnership with JTG Daugherty Racing and it is a brand my family has always used," Labonte said. "It's neat to have their Clorox brand on board at Phoenix."
Labonte is looking to deliver a strong finish for the brand. He has three top-five and nine top-10 finishes at Phoenix International Raceway while the team's best finish is 11th (twice).
"I love Phoenix personally," Kerr said. "Last spring we qualified fourth and ran 11th. During the fall race (22nd), we were a little off. With Bobby's experience and a new Toyota motor, it will help us be better on Sunday."
-source: jtg racing