Bobby Labonte Battles Pain at Texas

Labonte battles pain in full day of running By Dave Rodman FORT WORTH, Texas (March 26, 1999) Bobby Labonte isn't sure how far he'll race on Sunday, but he'll have Matt Kenseth standing for relief. Bobby Labonte, who broke his right ...

Labonte battles pain in full day of running By Dave Rodman

FORT WORTH, Texas (March 26, 1999) Bobby Labonte isn't sure how far he'll race on Sunday, but he'll have Matt Kenseth standing for relief. Bobby Labonte, who broke his right shoulder blade one week ago in a crash in NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division practice at Darlington Raceway, wouldn't commit Friday to driving 500 miles in Sunday's PRIMESTAR 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. But the NASCAR Winston Cup Series star made a huge statement by driving every lap his Interstate Batteries Pontiac turned in practice Friday at the high-speed 1.5-mile oval -- then qualified it on the outside of the front row in Bud Pole Award Qualifying, for good measure.

"Ask my wife, I'm not very tough -- trust me," Labonte said in downplaying his feat, a lap of 189.853 mph -- second only to Kenny Irwin's 190.154 Bud Pole-winning effort. "I can lean back on the seat the way we've got it all taped up, (but) I don't want to take any licks at all. The way it's positioned, it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

"I can reach up and grab the wheel. I can shift the gears. Last week, I was a little bit sluggish doing it. Reverse is the hardest thing -- I can't get to reverse too good."

Labonte, 34, won't have too far to go forward on Sunday, either. The native of Corpus Christi, Texas, said he would make a decision Saturday on what he would do Sunday. He said NASCAR Busch Series point leader Matt Kenseth, who relieved him after about 45 laps last weekend at Darlington, would practice the Joe Gibbs Racing car first thing Saturday morning to refresh for his probable relief role on Sunday.

"I really have no idea," Labonte said when asked how far he thought he could go on Sunday. "I'll have a better idea tomorrow when I run some more laps. I do know I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be today."

Labonte said he ran "between 15 and 20 laps" in practice Friday. He has been working with Carolina Panthers trainers doing underwater and other physical therapy and work with an electrical stimulation device. He is using a "cast" taped to the back of his seat for support.

"Matt is going to come drive it in the morning, just in case," Labonte said. "Matt's a good, young driver that has a good head on his shoulders and we were all pleased with his performance last week. I knew he would take care of the race car.

Kenseth scored a 10th-place finish at Darlington and actually propelled Labonte closer to the front of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings. Labonte is third, 26 points behind leader Jeff Burton.

"It is getting better every day," Labonte said in summary. "I am feeling pretty good. We have changed everything we can on the car. It is kind of wait and see. I enjoy coming here because I have family that I don't normally get to see, and I like the track."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing