LABONTE EARNS SECOND PONTIAC GRAND PRIX VICTORY OF '99 SEASON DOVER, Del. (June 6, 1999) -- Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix driver Bobby Labonte has run with the NASCAR Winston Cup leaders throughout the season. Sunday, he finally ...
LABONTE EARNS SECOND PONTIAC GRAND PRIX VICTORY OF '99 SEASON
DOVER, Del. (June 6, 1999) -- Interstate Batteries Pontiac Grand Prix driver Bobby Labonte has run with the NASCAR Winston Cup leaders throughout the season. Sunday, he finally finished at the head of the class.
Pontiac's most-consistent driver this season broke through with a well-deserved victory by stretching his fuel mileage over the final 107 miles to win the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway. It was Pontiac's second win of the season. Labonte's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Tony Stewart, finished fourth. It was his fourth top-five finish in his last five starts.
After 13 races, Pontiac has two wins, 16 top-five and 34 top-10 finishes. At the same point last season, Pontiac had two wins, but only five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.
Labonte is enjoying his best-ever season in a Grand Prix. He is third in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, just 69 points behind leader Dale Jarrett. Labonte has nine top-five finishes in 13 starts this season.
Crew chief Jimmy Makar pulled Labonte in on lap 293 of the 400-lap race. At that point, he decided the only way his driver would likely win would be by stretching his fuel mileage. The strategy worked like a charm. The rest of the race went caution-free, and Labonte had the only car among the leaders that could go the distance.
"I have to believe in him, that's my job," Labonte said of Makar. "We actually had about a fourth-place car. We won the race on fuel mileage. Our Grand Prix ran great. This is the best I've ever run here. The only problem is this win came a week late and a million dollars short."
Labonte led with 18 laps to go last week at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600 and wound up finishing second. Had he won, he would have collected a $1 million bonus.
But Labonte was clearly thrilled with is first-ever win at Dover.
"We've been running consistent all year," Labonte said. "You know that was one of our goals at the beginning of the season. We've been knocking down the top-10s and top-fives. To win a race is a tribute to all the guys on this team. Everything right now is clicking along like you dream about."
Pontiac has three drivers ranked in the top-10 in the Winston Cup point standings -- Labonte (third), Stewart (fifth) and Ward Burton (ninth). Pontiac is also making noise in the manufacturers point standings. Although third, Pontiac trails Chevrolet by only seven points, 81-74. Ford leads with 92 points. Pontiac's top-finisher has bested Chevy's top-finisher in seven of 13 races this season.