Labonte, Bodine Overdue at Atlanta

Labonte, Bodine long overdue at Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. (March 3, 1998) A glance at the all-time leaders in various statistical categories for the 77 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races that have been held at Atlanta Motor Speedway reveals a virtual...

Labonte, Bodine long overdue at Atlanta

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 3, 1998) A glance at the all-time leaders in various statistical categories for the 77 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races that have been held at Atlanta Motor Speedway reveals a virtual "Who's Who" of the history of stock-car racing's premier series.

Closer examination also reveals a number of drivers who have accumulated enviable records at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with one glaring exception: they haven't quite been able to join the 33 drivers who have capped a Winston Cup race at AMS with a trip to Victory Lane. The following is a closer look at some of those who are overdue:

Each of the six drivers who has won four or more Bud Pole Awards or who has been the fastest qualifier at Atlanta Motor Speedway on four occasions has captured at least one NASCAR Winston Cup Series win at the track. Among drivers who captured the pole and were fastest qualifiers on three occasions, neither the late Alan Kulwicki nor the retired Harry Gant ever won race at Atlanta.

The only active driver in this category is Geoff Bodine, who captured his third Bud Pole at AMS last November, blazing a lap around the new 1.54-mile quad-oval in a record-shattering 197.478 mph.

Only one driver among the top-nine on AMS' all-time earnings list, fifth-place Terry Labonte, his failed to capture a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Atlanta.

A total of 14 drivers have finished on the lead lap on at least eight occasions in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition at Atlanta. Of those, 13 also have reached Victory Lane. The exception, once again, is Labonte, who is tied with three-time Atlanta winner Morgan Shepherd for eighth place on that list with 10 finishes in the lead lap.

Labonte's 40 starts at Atlanta rank him 10th on the track's all-time list, making him the only driver in the top-12 who hasn't won at AMS.

Labonte, with nine top-five finishes, ranks 11th on Atlanta Motor Speedway's all-time list in that category. Everyone else among the top-16 in top-fives can claim an Atlanta Motor Speedway victory.

Bodine has set the pace for 397 laps around Atlanta Motor Speedway, which puts him 13th on the lap leaders list and the only driver among the top-14 on that list who hasn't reached Victory Lane. Bodine and Labonte each has led 17 different races at Atlanta. The seven drivers who have led more all have won at Atlanta.

Labonte's 23 top-10 finishes rank seventh on Atlanta Motor Speedway's all-time list, making him the only driver in the top-17 in that category who hasn't won at Atlanta.

Labonte has driven 17,271 miles at Atlanta to rank 10th in that category. The nine ahead of him all are Atlanta Motor Speedway winners.

Labonte, whose younger brother, Bobby, has captured back-to-back runnings of the NAPA 500, has managed to visit Victory Lane twice at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He captured the 1996 Stihl 300 for NASCAR Busch Series cars and should be among the favorites in the seventh edition of that event on Saturday. And, of course, the elder Labonte earned his second NASCAR Winston Cup Series title in 1996 at Atlanta.

"I've come so close so many times," Terry Labonte said. "In March of 1996, I thought I had it won, and (Dale) Earnhardt had that great late pit stop and beat us. I'd love to get a win this time."

While Bodine has started on the Bud Pole three times at Atlanta, his best finishing position has been second, also three times.

"Once of these days I'm finally going to win at Atlanta," Bodine said, "so everybody can stop saying I'm the most overdue."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Morgan Shepherd , Harry Gant , Alan Kulwicki