Michigan: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, June 13, 2005 -- The following are Batman Begins 400 and Paramount Health Insurance 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (NEXTEL...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, June 13, 2005 -- The following are Batman Begins 400 and Paramount Health Insurance 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (NEXTEL Cup Series) and the No. 47 Chevrolet Silverado for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports (Craftsman Truck Series).

BATMAN BEGINS 400 PRE-RACE NOTES:

* Labonte will attempt to start his 26th NEXTEL Cup race at historic Michigan International Speedway. He won both races at the legendary track in 1995 and won the 1999 fall race.

* In 25 NEXTEL Cup starts at Michigan, Labonte has nine top-five finishes and has won the Bud Pole, four times, including capturing both poles in 2003.

* Labonte has 15 top-10 finishes at MIS in 25 Cup starts (60 percent). Between the 1993 fall race and the 2000 fall race, Labonte finished in the top 10 in 13 of 15 races, including nine consecutive races from the fall race in 1996 through the fall race of 2000.

* In 2004, Labonte started ninth and finished 26th in the June race and started 12th and finished eighth in the August race.

* Bad luck has plagued Labonte throughout the 2005 season. He has failed to finish in seven of the 14 races due to accidents or engine problems.

* The primary car for the Batman Begins 400 is chassis No. 99, the car Labonte finished second with in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. Labonte also drove the car at Atlanta where he started 19th and finished 37th after being involved in an accident on Lap 1 and suffering engine problems late in the race.

* The back-up car is chassis No. 78, the car Labonte used at Dover, where he finished 38th after engine problems ended his day after just 51 laps. The chassis was also used in 2004 at both Pocono races where he finished third and 29th (accident). Also in 2004, Labonte used the car to finish eighth at Las Vegas, 18th at Atlanta (spring), 18th at New Hampshire (fall) and 17th at Charlotte (fall). In 2003, the car was used 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 Michigan and finished second in the car in the first Michigan race. He started fourth in the car at Kansas.

PARAMOUNT HEALTH INSURANCE 200 PRE-RACE NOTES:

* Labonte will attempt to start his first Craftsman Truck Series event at Michigan and the sixth truck race of his career. He scored his first career Craftsman Truck Series win in April at Martinsville and finished second to Ron Hornaday by just .008 of a second in March at Atlanta.

* In 2004, Labotne finished third in the fall Truck race at Martinsville and finished 29th at Homestead after engine problems ended his day early. In 1996, Labonte finished 34th at Phoenix after a value problem caused him to drop out after only 31 laps.

* The Craftsman Truck Series is the fourth different series that Labonte will compete in at Michigan. He has 33 starts at Michigan in NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series and IROC competition with four wins (three Cup, one Busch). In those 33 starts, Labonte has 22 top-10, and 14 top-five finishes. In a 15 race stretch of Cup, Busch and IROC races between Aug. 1996 and June 2001, Labonte never finished lower than ninth and had 14 finishes of seventh or better.

* With his Craftsman Truck Series victory at Martinsville, Labonte became one of 13 drivers to win in each of NASCAR top divisions and the only guy to win in Cup, Busch and Truck competition at the same track. He and Terry Labonte are the only sets of brothers to win in all three of NASCAR's top divisions.

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion, 1991 Busch Series Champion): "Michigan has always been my favorite track. It just has everything going for it. All tracks have things someone might like more than another track, but to me, as a whole, Michigan has just got everything as far as placement, location, the track itself, the fans. A little bit of everything just seems like it goes a long way there. It's always a treat to go to Michigan, and when you run good there it helps. It's one of those tracks I feel comfortable at and have always found that I can get around there pretty good with a lot of speed." (About competing in the Craftsman Truck Series race): "I'm excited to get a chance to drive the No. 47 Chevrolet Silverado at Michigan. I really like working with Randy Goss and all the guys at Morgan-Dollar Motorsports (MDM). We had a lot of fun at Atlanta and Martinsville and, hopefully, we can do well at Michigan. I've always liked racing at Michigan. It's my favorite track on the schedule, so it's a going to be a pretty neat deal to be able to run in the Silverado on Saturday and then in our Interstate Batteries Monte Carlo on Sunday. We'll also be in the Busch race at Michigan in the fall, in our Eckrich car for ConAgra Foods, so to get to do four races at Michigan in one year is pretty cool. I'm looking forward to it."

-jgr-

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Series NASCAR-CUP