Charlotte II: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004 -- The following are UAW-GM Quality 500 and SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) and the No. 19 ...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004 -- The following are UAW-GM Quality 500 and SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) and the No. 19 Banquet Chevrolet (Busch Series) for Joe Gibbs Racing.


* Labonte will attempt to compete in his 35th NEXTEL Cup event at Charlotte. He has two wins (Spring 1995; Fall, 2000) and has finished in the top five 14 times (41 percent).

* In May, Labonte started ninth and finished 15th in the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Charlotte. One week later he started seventh and finished 13th in the Coca-Cola 600. He was in eighth-place on the final lap when he was involved in an accident with Raybestos Rookie Kasey Kahne.

* In 2003, Labonte started 12th and finished sixth in the fall Charlotte race.

* Labonte has five top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 2004.

* Labonte finished 16th Oct. 10 at Kansas. He is 15th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings with 3,540 points and is nine points behind 14th-place Kasey Kahne. He is 261 points ahead of 16th-place Michael Waltrip.

* The primary car for the UAW-GM Quality 500 is chassis No. 87, the car Labonte drove to second place with March 21 at Darlington and the car he won the Bud Pole with April 2 at Texas. He finished fifth with the car May 2 at California, eighth June 20 at Michigan International Speedway, 13th May 30 at Charlotte, 15th Aug. 8 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 18th July 11 at Chicagoland Speedway. Labonte also used the car at the fall race at Atlanta in 2003, where he started second and finished fifth.

* The back-up car will be No. 78, the car Labonte used June 13 and Aug. 1 at Pocono when he finished third and 29th (accident), respectively. He also used the car March 7 at Las Vegas, where he started seventh and finished eighth and March 14 at Atlanta where he started 10th and finished 18th. The car was used Sept. 19 at New Hampshire when Labonte started 13th and finished 18th. In 2003, the car was used the in the second Atlanta race where Labonte finished fifth. Chassis No. 78 was also used at both Michigan races and the Kansas race. Labonte won the pole at both Michigan races and finished second in the car in the first Michigan race. He started fourth in the car at Kansas.


* Labonte will attempt to start his third NASCAR Busch Series event of the season. He started ninth and finished 11th driving the No. 29 ESGR Army Nat'l Guard-Reserve Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the O'Reilly 300 April 3 at Texas Motor Speedway. He also drove in the fall California race for JGR in the No. 18 Banquet Chevrolet. He started 22nd and finished seventh.

* In 17 Busch Series starts at Charlotte, Labonte has never won, but has finished second three times (spring and fall, 1992; fall 1996). He has nine top-10 finishes and won the pole twice (fall 1996, spring 1998). The last time Labonte competed in a Busch Series race at Charlotte was spring 1998.

* 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 has 163 starts in Busch Series competition and has scored nine wins, 48 top-fives and 89 top-10 finishes. He has finished in the top-10 in 54 percent of his Busch Series starts.

* 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.

* Since the 1998 season, when he drove five Busch Series races, Labonte has only competed in two Busch events, Las Vegas in 1999 and Texas in 2004. He broke his shoulder blade in practice for the March 1999 Darlington Busch Series event, but did not miss a NEXTEL Cup Series start. However, he did not compete in that Busch Series race, nor any other until 2004.


BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, No. 19 Banquet Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion, 1991 Busch Series Champion): "It's been a hectic week, with Terry's (Labonte) announcement of his plans for the next couple of years and then getting ready for the Busch and Cup races at Charlotte. We were running pretty good at Charlotte late in the race in May, but got caught up in an accident on the final lap. A lot has changed since then and unfortunately, we've struggled a lot since then. I think we're learning though and, hopefully, we'll have a good week this week. I've run a lot of Busch races at Charlotte, but never have managed to win one there, so it'd be nice to do it this weekend."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Joe Nemechek , David Green , Kasey Kahne
Teams Richard Childress Racing