Labonte Rolls the Dice Looking for his Second Talladega Victory
TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 19, 2011) - - 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victor Bobby Labonte seeks his second win at Talladega Superspeedway with a drafting partner predetermined. However, two rule changes for the Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 23rd has Labonte conjecturing how much the cars will be limited to race in two-car drafts.
The size of the restrictor plate will increase by 1/64th of an inch (now 57/64ths-inch in diameter) and the pressure relief valve on the cooling systems will be re-calibrated to reduce the pressure by approximately 8 pounds per square inch from the spring race.
“With the new water pressure - I guess it is a valve that NASCAR has changed - we will find out early in practice on Friday what we will be able to do and how many laps we can draft pushing and how much we will be able to,” Labonte said. “It will change it up some and the bigger plate is going to be a little bit different too. I think at the end of the day, you want to be pushing somebody across the start-finish line or better yet getting pushed across the start-finish line. We’ll find out more about the rule change when we get there.”
Regardless, a driver needs a drafting partner and Labonte’s will be two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, who also has a victory at Talladega in September 2003. In April 1998, Labonte won from the pole and has accumulated six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes at the 2.66-mile tri-oval. The two drivers will make a great drafting pair in Sunday’s race.
“Michael texted me about a month ago and we worked it out that we will work together,” Labonte said. “Frankie (Kerr) knows, Bobby Kennedy knows, Michael knows and I know that we are going to work together all day.”
Having a plan going into the weekend will make things run smoother.
“It’s not like I’ll get down there Friday morning and be like, well, ‘Who am I going to draft with today?’,” Labonte said. “Michael and I might get split up at some point in time, but we hope not. It’s no different than what Hendrick Motorsports’ teams did last time. We will stay together and stay true and be smart in the race because it’s going to pay the trophy at the end not halfway through the race.”
Labonte hopes to be there at the end to have a shot.
“Talladega is a crap shoot,” Labonte said. “Sometimes it’s not in your control of what could happen. And, you just hope you’re not a part of anything like that and you are first at the end.”
Before the race on Sunday at 10 a.m. Central in the Talladega Superspeedway deadline media center, JTG Daugherty Racing will announce their plans for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
“We’ve got a lot of great things happening and we are looking forward to our journey in 2012,” co-owner Tad Geschickter said.
Prior to flying out on Thursday for Talladega and his big day on Sunday, Labonte is looking forward to having his hands full delivering Sealy mattresses to Barium Springs Home for Children along with JTG Daugherty Racing team members Dave Kulak, William (Billy) John, Barry Deel and Bobby Labonte Foundation president Jeff Batts. The race team is staying connected with the Statesville, N.C. children’s home that’s not far up the road from Race City USA.
“It’s nice to go back to Barium Springs Home for Children and be able to help people in need,” Deel said. “A few years ago my wife and I researched charities in Charlotte, N.C. during the holidays and we decided to do some things for Barium Springs Home for Children and the Rescue Mission.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I do for a living and I’ve actually been on the other side of the fence and know what hard times are,” Deel continued. “It makes me feel good to be able to help someone in need. I’m looking forward to going back to Barium Springs to help deliver Sealy mattresses for the homes.”