Labonte, Kellogg's(TM) Racing Team both sharply focused in return to Pocono. POCONO, Pa., July 25 -- As Terry Labonte(R) and the Kellogg's Racing Team prepared for the second half of the 2002 season, they set one very clear goal for ...
Labonte, Kellogg's(TM) Racing Team both sharply focused in return to Pocono.
POCONO, Pa., July 25 -- As Terry Labonte(R) and the Kellogg's Racing Team prepared for the second half of the 2002 season, they set one very clear goal for themselves.
"We want to be in the Top 10 in the point standings at the end of the year," Labonte said. "I've always prided myself on being consistent. We had gotten off-track the last couple of seasons, but the team has been much steadier this year and we expect to build even more momentum in returning to some of these tracks for the second time."
One of those return visits comes up this weekend with the 29th running of the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. Labonte took his lumps here in June, retiring with an engine failure just past mid-race. That setback saddled the Kellogg's Team with its only DNF in the last nine starts. More importantly, it provided Labonte with another opportunity to see how well-equipped his team is to overcome such adversity.
"Las Vegas (early March) was just as much of a disappointment as losing the engine at Pocono and we rallied from that with a series of good finishes (including back-to-back Top-10s)," Labonte said. "We followed the failure at Pocono with a third-place finish in Sonoma (Calif.), and had good runs at Daytona (Fla.) and Chicago."
Indeed, Labonte's average finish over the last four races is 13th place, a full six positions higher than his overall season average. Since falling to 26th in the standings after Las Vegas, the two-time champion has rallied back to 17th and is less than 300 points out of 10th place with 17 races remaining.
Labonte is 10 spots higher than he was at this point a year ago. He trails 15th-place Michael Waltrip by 99 points and is just 267 points in arrears to No. 10 Bill Elliott.
Pocono is the second track where the series will make a second stop this season. After finishing 20th in the Daytona 500 during Speed Weeks in February, Labonte returned to the "Beach" earlier this month and finished 14th under the lights. He expects similar improvement on Pocono's unique 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track this weekend.
A victory in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 would make Labonte only the second driver in Pocono history to win in three different decades since the track opened in 1974. Darrell Waltrip drove to victory here in 1978, 1981 and 1991. In addition, Labonte is on a pace to break one of his personal single-season records as the second half of the schedule unfolds. After the Pocono DNF in June, he's run off five straight finishing efforts, bringing his season total to 16. If Labonte runs to the finish in 14 of the remaining 17 races, he'll break his single-season mark of 29 races completed set in 1997 and matched in '98.
The 2002 Pennsylvania 500 is scheduled to start shortly after 1 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, July 28 and will be televised live by TNT, with the radio broadcast on the Motor Racing Network. Bobby Labonte is the defending champion. Now in his 10th year behind the wheel of the Kellogg's Chevrolet, Labonte stands seventh on the all-time money-winning list and is a two-time series champion with 21 career victories.
Kellogg Company (NYSE:K) is in its 13th year as a NASCAR team sponsor, has been an Official Status Partner of the sanctioning body since 1995 and is the "Official Breakfast Food of NASCAR" through 2004.