BOBBY LABONTE NEXTEL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE NOTES AND QUOTES HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, May 17, 2005 -- The following are NEXTEL All-Star Challenge pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet...
BOBBY LABONTE NEXTEL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE NOTES AND QUOTES
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, May 17, 2005 -- The following are NEXTEL All-Star Challenge pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing.
NEXTEL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE PRE-RACE NOTES:
* The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet will have a special paint scheme for the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. A red No. 18 will appear on the upper left of the hood (when facing) and the Interstate Batteries logo will be in the lower right. A checkered background accompanies the number and logo. According to NASCAR historian Buz McKim, it is believed the last time a number appeared on the hood of car in a NASCAR race was Nov. 15, 1970 at Rockingham when, ironically, the No. 18 was on the hood of Joe Frasson's winged Dodge Daytona in the American 500. The number on that car was unusually placed on the center of the long sloped nose, not actually on the hood itself. NASCAR had just started requiring cars to carry a small number on a headlight cover on the front of the car, but Frasson and his team took it a little further. At that time the hood was used to show the size of the engine in cubic inches and sponsor logos hadn't quite made their way to the hood.
* Labonte will attempt to start his 11th All-Star race at Charlotte. He finished second in 1997 and 1998, third in 2003 and fourth in 2001. Labonte and the Interstate Batteries pit crew won the pole for the event in 1995 and 1999.
* In the 2004 All-Star event, Labonte started ninth and finished 15th.
* In addition to his nine All-Star starts, Labonte competed in the NEXTEL Open in 1993 and 1994, but failed to transfer into the All-Star race.
* Labonte has two wins at Charlotte, including his first career NEXTEL Cup victory, which took place in 1995 at the Coca-Cola 600. He also won the fall race in 2000 on his way to the championship. In 36 NEXTEL Cup races at Charlotte, Labonte has finished in the top five 14 times (39 percent).
* Labonte is 31st in the 2005 NEXTEL Cup point standings, but has rebounded from early-season bad-luck with two top-10 finishes in the last four races. He finished sixth at Phoenix and eighth at Richmond. He has finished on the lead lap in three of the last four events and moved from 37th to 31st in points.
* The primary car for the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge is chassis No. 91, a new car that has not been raced before. It served as a backup at California and Atlanta.
* The back up car is chassis No. 78, the car Labonte used in 2004 at both Pocono races where he finished third and 29th (accident). He finished eighth in March at Las Vegas, 18th in March at Atlanta, 18th in September at New Hampshire and 17th in October at Charlotte. 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.
NEXTEL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE PRE-RACE QUOTE:
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion): "It'd be a neat deal to get a win in the All-Star race. I've come close a couple times before, but never been able to close the deal out. It's always an interesting event. The three-segment deal can be good if you're not running well. It gives you a chance to makes some changes to your car during the breaks they have. At the same time though, if you're running decent, you also don't want to over adjust or over think it, which is very easy to do. The track goes through a lot of changes, usually, and that is the one thing you have to be prepared for, but you just don't want to over adjust it."
NORM MILLER (Chairman, Interstate Batteries): (About the number on the hood): "The art department at Interstate had been working on the design for use with another project. I liked the look of the number and the logo --it's really sharp. I was walking through our offices and walked by a hood of a car that was hanging on a wall and it kind of struck me that the design would look good on a hood. So, we decided to put it on the car for the NEXTEL All-Star race. It's something unique, and it looks really good. We're looking forward to seeing it out there racing this Saturday."