BUSCH: Bobby Labonte Michigan preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2005 -- The following are GFS Marketplace 400/Domino's Pizza 250 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) and the No. 19 Eckrich Chevrolet...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2005 -- The following are GFS Marketplace 400/Domino's Pizza 250 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) and the No. 19 Eckrich Chevrolet (Busch Series) for Joe Gibbs Racing.


* Labonte will attempt to start his 27th NEXTEL Cup race at historic Michigan International Speedway. He won both races at the legendary track in 1995 and won the 1999 fall race.

* In 26 NEXTEL Cup starts at Michigan, Labonte has nine top-five finishes and has won the Bud Pole, four times, including capturing both poles in 2003.

* Labonte has 15 top-10 finishes at MIS in 26 Cup starts (58 percent). Between the 1993 fall race and the 2000 fall race, Labonte finished in the top 10 in 13 of 15 races, including nine consecutive races from the fall race in 1996 through the fall race of 2000.

* In June 2005, Labonte started sixth and finished 15th in the NEXTEL Cup race at MIS. He also competed in the Craftsman Truck Series event that weekend. He qualified 17th, but finished 32nd after crashing on Lap 93 of 100 while in the top 10.

* Last week, at Watkins Glen, Labonte started 23rd and finished 36th after a mechanical problem ended his day on Lap 86 of 90.

* Bad luck has plagued Labonte throughout the 2005 season. He has failed to finish in nine of the 22 races due to accidents or engine problems.

* Labonte is 24th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. He has 2,094 points and trails 23rd-place Casey Mears by two points. Labonte is 1,019 points behind Tony Stewart, who leads the points, 619 points from the 400-point cutoff for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and 499 behind 10th-place Carl Edwards.

* The primary car for the GFS Marketplace 400 is chassis No. 91 which Labonte used at Chicago when he started 26th and finished 13th. The car was involved in an accident in May during practice for the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

* The back-up car is chassis No. 99 the car Labonte finished second with in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. Labonte started sixth and finished 14th with the car in June at MIS and also drove the car at Atlanta where he started 19th and finished 37th after being involved in an accident on Lap 1 and suffering engine problems late in the race.


* The Domino's Pizza 250 is the third of eight Busch Series races the Labonte will compete in for Joe Gibbs Racing and ConAgra Foods. Labonte started 12th and finished sixth on the Hunt's Chevrolet in May at Charlotte and started 14th and finished 16th in the Banquet Chevy July 9 at Chicagoland. In addition to Charlotte, Chicago and Michigan, Labonte will compete at: Bristol, Aug. 26 (Hunt's), Richmond, Sept. 9 (Banquet); Kansas, Oct. 10 (Banquet), Texas, Nov. 6 (Slim Jim), and Phoenix, Nov. 12 (Slim Jim).

* Labonte will compete in his first Busch Series event at MIS since he finished second there in 1998. In five Busch Series races at MIS, Labonte has one win (1994), and finished lower than sixth only once (23rd, 1992).

* Labonte has 166 starts in Busch Series competition and has scored nine wins, 48 top-fives and 90 top-10 finishes. He has finished in the top-10 in 54 percent of his Busch Series starts.

* Labonte won the 1991 Busch Series championship on the strength of two wins and 21 top-five finishes. He lost the 1992 title by just three points to Joe Nemechek. The three-point margin is the closest points finish in the history of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series or Craftsman Truck Series competition.

* Labonte made his Busch Series debut in 1982 at Martinsville Speedway. He finished 30th and won $220. He then competed in the two races in 1985, six in 1988 and seven in 1989 before competing full-time for the first time in 1990.

* On April 13, 1991, Labonte scored his first career Busch Series win in the Budweiser 250 at Bristol International Speedway, driving the No. 44 Penrose Firecracker Oldsmobile. Labonte's good friend, David Green, finished second, while the late Dale Earnhardt finished third.

* Labonte's last Busch Series victory came in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 March 21, 1998 at Darlington Raceway in the No. 44 Shell Pontiac.

* The primary car for the Domino's Pizza 250 is Chassis No. 1959, which Labonte drove in both of his Busch races earlier in the year. He finished sixth at Charlotte and 16th at Chicagoland.

* The back-up car is chassis No. 1961, a new car.


BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion, 1991 Busch Series Champion): "Michigan has always been my favorite track. It just has everything going for it. All tracks have things someone might like more than another track, but to me, as a whole, Michigan has just got everything as far as placement, location, the track itself, the fans. A little bit of everything just seems like it goes a long way there. It's always a treat to go to Michigan, and when you run good there it helps. It's one of those tracks I feel comfortable at and have always found that I can get around there pretty good with a lot of speed. I'm looking forward to doing both the Cup and Busch events this weekend. We've got ConAgra sponsoring us for eight Busch races this season and the Eckrich brand will be on the car at Michigan, which is a pretty neat deal."


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Joe Nemechek , Casey Mears , David Green , Carl Edwards
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing