LABONTE’S DAY ENDS EARLY AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY
HAMPTON, Ga. (September 7, 2011) - - Bobby Labonte completed 91 of 325 laps behind the wheel of the No. 47 Bush’s Beans Toyota before making hard contact with the retaining wall on the frontstretch during the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Labonte reported his car was really tight in the middle throughout the race and loose on entry and exit before his Toyota Camry snapped out from underneath him a second time approaching lap 100.
This time the incident took the six-time Atlanta Motor Speedway winner out of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. His car was towed back to the garage with severe front-end damage.
At that point in time, the JTG Daugherty Racing crew assessed the damage sustained and determined their day was over and loaded up the transporter to travel back to North Carolina. Meanwhile, Labonte took a trip to the infield care center where he was quickly released.
The 2000 champion was scored with a 38th-place finish after starting 23rd in the 25th race of the season that was postponed Sunday due to inclement weather caused by Tropical Storm Lee.
“We weren’t that happy with it Friday or Saturday and we made some changes on the car and I think we might have went the wrong way a little bit,” said Labonte on Tuesday. “The car was really, really tight and it was making it so loose on entry and off. The grip level went away like a light switch went off. The guys worked hard. It wasn’t where we wanted to be and it ended our day quickly today. We’re excited about next week at Richmond. We feel like we have a better program there than here. We were trying some stuff here today that unfortunately didn't work out for us like we wanted it to.”
When he first started the race, Labonte was extremely tight in the center and loose in the corners as he was running inside the top 25. After 11 laps were logged in the books, Labonte took a spin through the grass and brought out the first caution of the race.
The JTG Daugherty Racing pit crew changed four tires, made a track bar and air adjustment, cleaned the grass off of the grill and checked the splitter. Fortunately, Labonte did not hit anything and the car’s body was in good shape.
“It was loose in, tight in the center,” Labonte said.
Once the changes were complete, Labonte was shown in 41st place.
“The changes didn’t help for some reason,” Labonte said. “It’s real tight, snaps loose late exit.”
NASCAR implemented a competition caution at lap 30 that allowed the team to continue their work on the car and change four tires.
“There’s just no grip, no consistency,” Labonte said.
Labonte was 27th on lap 35 when the green flag was in the air again and his Bush’s Beans Toyota was still loose in, tight in the middle and loose off the corners.
“Again, there’s no grip,” said Labonte before pitting for four tires and a left-side wedge adjustment.
Moving forward, Labonte was 30th at lap 87. Five laps later, his car snapped loose hitting the retaining wall ultimately ending his day.
Jeff Gordon was the eventual winner, Jimmie Johnson was second, Tony Stewart crossed the finish line third, Kurt Busch was fourth and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five finishing order.