LABONTE CLIMBS FROM BACK OF FIELD FOR SOLID FINISH IN BRISTOL BRISTOL, TENN. (March 22, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Academy Sports + Outdoors team climbed through the field of 43 and gained 14 positions in Sunday's Food City 500 at...
LABONTE CLIMBS FROM BACK OF FIELD FOR SOLID FINISH IN BRISTOL
BRISTOL, TENN. (March 22, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Academy Sports + Outdoors team climbed through the field of 43 and gained 14 positions in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The effort marked the team's first of five races with Academy Sports + Outdoors as primary sponsor.
Labonte began the Food City 500 in the 36th position before a capacity crowd of 160,000. After the green flag flew, Labonte immediately reported the car to be tight and when the first of nine caution flags was shown at lap 28, the No. 96 Academy Sports + Outdoors Ford came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
A series of cautions in the first 150 laps allowed the Academy Sports + Outdoors team to make adjustments to their Ford Fusion. Labonte radioed to crew chief Todd Parrott that the car was getting tighter as the race progressed and Parrott ordered for wedge and track bar adjustments. Labonte climbed nine positions by lap 124 while fighting tight handling.
The famed compact racing at Bristol Motor Speedway gave Labonte trouble at lap 189 as he rubbed the wall and the fifth caution flag of the day flew. Parrott radioed for fender repairs as the No. 96 Academy Sports + Outdoors Ford slid into the pit stall.
For almost half of the 500-lap event, Labonte remained on the lead lap; a challenging task at the .533-mile oval. Another series of cautions brought the No. 96 Hall of Fame entry down pit road and Parrott ordered additional adjustments to the car. With only 100 laps to go, Labonte had climbed through the field, racing in 22nd position. The Academy Sports + Outdoors team got Labonte out of the pit box in team-record times on Sunday, helping Labonte to finish 22nd for the day.
"My Academy Sports + Outdoors Ford Fusion was tight today," said Labonte. "It started out pretty good but got tighter and tighter. We worked on it throughout the race and by the end it was better. The guys worked really hard today but we've got some work to do to be better next weekend in Martinsville."
Kyle Busch took the checkered flag as an exciting green, white, checkered finish completed the Food City 500.
* Labonte will receive the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Award on Wednesday, April 1st as part of the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala. The award will place Labonte in an elite group of Texas talent that has been selected by local media in Texas. Proceeds of the event will benefit Happy Hill Farm, an academy and home for at-risk children.
* Labonte will provide a ride to school for a fifth-grader before climbing into the No. 96 in Texas. A child will be recognized for representing their school in the Ask.com Safe Search School program, which promotes internet safety education and awareness. The veteran driver, who is sponsored by Ask.com, also will participate in delivering new computers to the school's computer lab.