Labonte misfires in Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 1999) Bobby Labonte scored his first ever victory at Daytona International Speedway in Thursday's Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race, but was foiled by a misfiring engine throughout...
Labonte misfires in Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 16, 1999) Bobby Labonte scored his first ever victory at Daytona International Speedway in Thursday's Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race, but was foiled by a misfiring engine throughout Sunday's Daytona 500. He was credited with a 25th place finish, two laps behind winner Jeff Gordon.
Thursday's Gatorade 125 was Labonte's first-ever victory at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. He started 10th and was shuffled back almost to the tail end of the lead draft. On lap 39, Labonte found himself in position to put a move on race leader Jeff Gordon, hooking up with Ken Schrader between turns three and four and moving to the outside of Gordon. Labonte led the final 11 laps and took the checkered flag two car lengths ahead of Gordon.
"I pinched him (Gordon) off on some lapped cars," Labonte said. "He drove back and got right back in there. With five laps to go, I got to thinking 'Hey, I'm not supposed to be here, Gordon's supposed to be here.' I've always been on the other end of the deal. I was always the one getting blocked. I don't like blocking people and I'm not very good at it. I guess it's what you've got to do. We did the right thing and came home first."
Labonte earned the third starting position with his win in the qualifying race and led in the early stages of the 500 (twice for 20 laps). By the 50-lap mark, his problems began and he was forced to hold on to the lead draft as best he could. Labonte and the team caught a break when the first yellow flag of the race waved on lap 96, giving the Interstate Batteries Racing Team an opportunity to make repairs to the car. The team changed the entire group of spark plug wires and sent Labonte back to the track, although he lost a lap in the process.
Labonte's Pontiac continued to misfire and he was forced into the pits for a lengthy stop during the third caution of the day on lap 137. The team swarmed over the car and replaced the ignition system, unfortunately losing another lap in the process.
"The Interstate Batteries Pontiac ran great at the start of the race and then it started missing," Labonte said. "We were hoping we had a plug wire come loose or something so we changed all the wires. I guess we won't know until we get home and the guys have a chance to take a closer look at it. When it wasn't missing, the car would go. We'll put this behind us and get ready for Rockingham."
Source: NASCAR Online