Bobby Labonte fights for a 31st place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte, NC. (May 30, 2010) - TRG Motorsports and the No. 71 Chevrolet team took the green flag for the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday evening and raced into the night at the 1.5-mile ...
Bobby Labonte fights for a 31st place finish in the Coca-Cola 600
Charlotte, NC. (May 30, 2010) - TRG Motorsports and the No. 71 Chevrolet team took the green flag for the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday evening and raced into the night at the 1.5-mile Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. After 400 laps, the team came home with a clean race car and a hard-fought 31st-place finish.
Bobby Labonte, driving The Post-9/11 GI Bill No. 71, started the race in 38th position. Labonte battled a "tight" car at the start of the race. The team came in on Lap 43 to make a track bar adjustment, fuel and take a fresh set of tires to help remedy the condition.
On Lap 61 the first caution flew when the No. 42 car wrecked in Turn 2. The team came back down pit road for four new tires. Labonte restarted 37th and continued to fight a tight car in the corners. When the second caution came out at Lap 90 for a spin by Marcos Ambrose, Labonte and the Doug Randolph-led crew chose to stay out.
At Lap 100, one-fourth of the way through the race, Labonte was in 36th position. A caution at Lap 167 allowed the team to come in to take four tires, adjust on the track bar and to tweak the air pressure. The team was looking to make a charge, but on Lap 183 Labonte came in for an unscheduled pit stop. The culprit was a flat left-rear tire. Labonte's fastest lap of the night came with that set of fresh tires at Lap 185.
Twelve laps past halfway was when the fourth caution came out for debris in Turn 2. Labonte chose to stay out during the caution period, earning a 'wave around' and instead came down pit road on Lap 238 for tires and fuel. A caution came out on Lap 273, and Labonte came back in for some more handling adjustments as the team was battling now a "loose" race car.
With less than 100 Laps to go, the caution flew when Robby Gordon smacked the outside wall. The team took the opportunity to pit. The car was loose on entry and exit and felt like it had lost grip. Additional adjustments were made as the team prepared for a strong run to the end.
Final green-flag pit stops began around Lap 350 of the 400-lap event and Labonte came in at Lap 365 for his final stop for four tires and fuel. A late-race caution gave the team once last opportunity to gain positions.
Picking up two spots on pit road, Labonte restarted 31st with 29 laps to go. That is where the team finished, locked in the top-35 in owner points heading into next weekend's event at Pocono.
Team Driver Bobby Labonte comments on the Coca-Cola 600:
Bobby Labonte "We battled a tight car at the start", said Labonte. "And then, when the sun went down, it went the other way and was loose. Like everyone, we had to chase the track conditions. This was not a finish we wanted, but the guys fought hard all night. We'll take what we learned about the car and see where we can get better." Team Owner Kevin Buckler comments on the weekend results:
"The guys worked hard tonight for all 600 miles", said Buckler. "We didn't qualify as well as we had hoped and that put us behind at the start. We had a clean race and the team kept working on the car and making adjustments.
"We intend on doing our best to continue to improve. The team will keep plugging away to make sure we start producing the finishes that we deserve. We had great partners on the car this weekend, with both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Upper Big Branch Family Fund, and we're proud to raise awareness for those who have done so much for our country on this Memorial Day weekend."
-source: trg motorsports