No pole for Labonte this time By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 1999) Bobby Labonte was the man to beat in 1998 in Bud Pole Qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. In 1999, he looked more like a beaten man. Labonte, who won...
No pole for Labonte this time By Brett Borden
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 1999) Bobby Labonte was the man to beat in 1998 in Bud Pole Qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. In 1999, he looked more like a beaten man.
Labonte, who won the Bud Pole Award in both the Daytona 500 in February and the Pepsi 400 in October of last year, qualified well down on the grid for this year's 500, placing 19th at a speed of 193.162. It was an improvement over his practice times, and even better than his 1998 pole-winning speed of 192.415 mph, but it was not enough to get a whiff of the Bud Pole this year.
"That was better than we ran in practice for sure," said Labonte. "These guys with the Interstate Pontiac have worked real hard. We just really haven't found the speed we had last year with the same car. We can't even get the same speed we had in the same car. I'm not worried about anybody else, but we can't find it."
Labonte wasn't even fastest among the Pontiacs, or fastest driver in the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, for that matter. Labonte's rookie teammate, Tony Stewart, qualified second behind Jeff Gordon.
"I'm definitely concerned (with Labonte's time)," said Stewart. "I'm concerned that tonight they're going to repaint the two cars."
Pontiac driver Ernie Irvan also qualified ahead of Labonte, as did 11 Chevrolets and five Fords. Considering his search all week for speed, Labonte sounded relieved that the whole matter was behind him.
"At least it's over with now and we won't worry about it," said Labonte. "We made a good effort and the guys did a good job. We'll just have to start practicing again tomorrow."
Practicing for the Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race on Thursday, that is. Perhaps in a test longer than the two laps provided in qualifying Labonte can move to the front of the class again.
Source: NASCAR Online