Dover: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, June 1, 2004 -- The following are MBNA 400 "A Salute To Heroes" pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 MBNA 60th Anniversary of D-Day Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. MBNA 400 "A SALUTE...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, June 1, 2004 -- The following are MBNA 400 "A Salute To Heroes" pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 MBNA 60th Anniversary of D-Day Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing.

MBNA 400 "A SALUTE TO HEROES" PRE-RACE NOTES:

* Labonte will attempt to start his 24th race at Dover International Speedway. He made his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup debut at the track on June 2, 1991 driving for Labonte Racing. He started 33rd and finished 34th after engine problems ended his day after 88 laps.

* MBNA is the primary sponsor of the No. 18 Chevrolet for Dover, and Labonte's car is painted in a style reminiscent of World War II military equipment. A 1:24 scale die-cast replica of Labonte's MBNA D-Day car is available and a portion of the royalties from sales of the die-cast will be donated to the D-Day Memorial Foundation and to the Armed Forces Family Scholarship and Assistance Fund (AFFSAF), administered by the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation (MCLEF).

* In 23 starts at Dover, Labonte has 11 top-five finishes, including a victory in the spring race in 1999 when he won from the pole. He also won the pole in 1996 (fall) and 1997 (spring).

* Labonte had seven consecutive top-five finishes at Dover from the fall race in 1997 through the fall race in 2000. However, since then, Labonte has managed only one top-10 finish (third, spring 2003) in seven races at Dover.

* In the 2003 spring race, Labonte started 13th and finished third. He started eighth and finished 31st in the fall race.

* After finishing 13th at Charlotte, Labonte moved up one spot in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, moving from seventh to sixth. He has 1,554 points and his 244 behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 33 behind fifth-place Tony Stewart, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Since exiting the Texas race 15th in points, Labonte has gradually gained nine spots in the last five races.

* The primary car for the MBNA 400 is No. 74, the car Labonte used to win the pole and finish fourth with in 2003 at Las Vegas. Labonte also drove the car in 2003 California, where he finished second and at the second Pocono race, where he finished 30th after an engine problem ended his day early.

* The back-up car will be No. 62, the car Labonte drove in All-Star events at Charlotte in 2003 (third-place finish) and 2004 (13th-place finish). The car was also used at the first Pocono event in 2003 when Labonte finished 16th.

MBNA 400 "A SALUTE TO HEROES" PRE-RACE QUOTE:

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 MBNA 60th Anniversary of D-Day Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion): "We had a tough ending to the Charlotte race, but still managed to gain a spot in the points. We've kind of quietly made our way up there. Dover will be interesting. We've struggled there a little bit recently, although we got a third-place last spring. We used to be guaranteed of a great run there for the longest time it seemed. And it wasn't that we were sitting in victory lane all the time, but we could always count on a top-five for sure. The last two or three years, though, were a struggle to say the least. We just couldn't seem to get out of our own way over the last few trips to Dover. We'll see what happens this week, but we're pretty confident. We've got a cool paint scheme for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day and MBNA, so, hopefully, we can give the guys in the Armed Forces a victory this weekend."

-jgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing