Charlotte Bobby Labonte Takes Blame for Crash

Labonte blames himself for multi-car accident By Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 4, 1998) Bobby Labonte wouldn't point a finger at anyone else. He alone shouldered the blame for an multi-car crash three-quarters of the way through...

Labonte blames himself for multi-car accident By Shawn A. Akers

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 4, 1998) Bobby Labonte wouldn't point a finger at anyone else. He alone shouldered the blame for an multi-car crash three-quarters of the way through Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, an accident that ruined solid runs for most of those involved.

Running in third place behind Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon on lap 202, Labonte spun out going into Turns 1 and 2, and what followed was an 11-car melee that took out a slew of the contenders, ending a solid run for most of them, including Labonte and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac.

Involved in the accident, which caused the ninth caution flag of the day, were Labonte, Mike Skinner, Dale Earnhardt, Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield, Terry Labonte, Kyle Petty, Sterling Marlin, Kenny Irwin and Geoff Bodine.

"It wasn't their fault, it was mine," Labonte said. "I was tucked up underneath Mark (Martin) going down the front straightaway and I had a great run off Turn 4. I got up underneath him real close and the car started lifting a little bit. I turned the wheel and it wouldn't turn as I was going through the second tri-oval.

"I kind of got a little bit underneath him and he kind of went high to let me go, and when it did, it got all the air on the nose and I just flat spun out. I caused the biggest wreck of the day right there, I guess."

After Labonte spun out, his brother Terry got sideways, apparently from an oil spill, and Rudd couldn't avoid getting into the back of Terry's No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet. That caused a chain reaction of cars slamming into each other between Turns 1 and 2.

"We got out of the dogleg and started going into Turn 1 and I saw the two cars in front of me -- Bobby and Terry -- just turn sideways at the same time," Rudd said. "At about that time I got in the oil that was dumped. Evidently somebody blew a motor and nobody knew it when we went into Turn 1.

"There was oil everywhere. I got up in the wall. I had it halfway dodged and missed and somebody hit me and shoved me into Bobby. Like I say, there was just oil everywhere. No one had any control. Everyone sailed off in there and you really didn't know where you were gonna land after you got into the corner."

Wallace may have gotten the worst of it. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford was hit hard twice by spinning cars, but said he felt fine afterwards.

"I'm OK," Wallace said. "I've just really got a hell of a headache right now. My head hurts a little bit, but I went down to the hospital (the infield care center) and got checked out. I feel fine.

"I don't know what happened. I really don't. I just saw the big meelee going on up front. I got through three or four cars and got it avoided and had a clear road ahead of me, and then all of a sudden, man, I get drilled in the right quarterpanel. I don't know who it was."

Wallace's and Bobby Labonte's cars were both damaged beyond repair and neither returned following the accident.

Earnhardt, who started in the 33rd position, had made his way up in the top-10 earlier in the race and was anticipating a solid top-10 finish, but the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet couldn't avoid the attrition, despite moving down to the bottom of the race track.

"I was just trying to dive down and not hit anybody, and I just caught up in it," said Earnhardt, who was running in the eighth position at the time of the accident. "I got into Sterling and I think the (No.) 7 car. We were having a decent run with the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo, but we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty , Sterling Marlin , Mark Martin