Indianapolis: Bobby Labonte preview

BOBBY LABONTE ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD NOTES AND QUOTES HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2004 -- The following are Allstate 400 at the Brickyard pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries...

BOBBY LABONTE ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD NOTES AND QUOTES

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2004 -- The following are Allstate 400 at the Brickyard pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing.

ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD PRE-RACE NOTES:

* Labonte will attempt to start his 12th race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won the 2000 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on his way to the 2000 NEXTEL Cup Championship.

* In 11 starts at Indianapolis, Labonte has one win and three other top-five finishes (2nd, 1997 and 1999; third 1998). He also finished ninth in 1995. His best finish since his victory in 2000 was 11th in 2002.

* Labonte has completed 1,759 of 1,761 laps contested in the 11 previous Allstate 400 at the Brickyard events. He finished a lap down in 1996 and 2003. He has never finished lower than 24th (1996).

* Labonte holds the race-record for average speed. He won the 2000 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at an average speed of 155.912 mph.

* Indianapolis is one of only four tracks on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series where Labonte has at least 10 starts, yet has failed to win a Bud Pole. The others are Bristol (25 starts), Infineon (13), Pocono (25).

* In the 2003 at Indianapolis, Labonte started 39th and finished 15th. He suffered engine problems during qualifying and was forced to use a provisional starting spot.

* After finishing eighth July 24 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., Labonte remained 23rd in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. He has 1,996 points and trails Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers, who are tied for 21st, by 41 points. Labonte is 803 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, 403 points from the 400-point cutoff for the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup and 376 behind 10th-place Dale Jarrett.

* After a miserable start to the season, which included engine failures and accidents not of his making, Labonte has finished in the top 15 in each of the last three races. He finished 13th at Chicagoland, third at New Hampshire and eighth at Pocono. During the first 14 races of the season, Labonte was only higher than 29th in points once (following the Coca-Cola 600, 24th). Since the first Pocono race, when he crashed late, finished 26th and left 29th in points, Labonte has steadily risen in the point standings. He has gained six spots in six weeks.

* The primary car for the Brickyard 400 is chassis No. 62, the car Labonte drove July 24 at Pocono when he started 23rd and finished eighth. Labonte also used the car in All-Star events at Charlotte in 2003 (third-place finish) and 2004 (13th-place finish) and at the first Pocono event in 2003 when Labonte finished 16th. Labonte used the car at the end of 2004 at Kansas where he started fifth and finished 16th and Homestead where he finished 12th after starting sixth.

* The back-up car will be chassis No. 91, which Labonte used at Chicago when he started 26th and finished 13th. The car was involved in an accident in May during practice for the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

* On July 31, Labonte competed in the Rolex Grand American Series event at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. He teamed with Roberto Moreno and started 16th and finished 14th in the Daytona Prototype class and 17th overall in the 46-car field. Labonte spun in Turn 9 on Lap 12 and, as a result, was the victim of a freak accident. Somehow, during the spin, the car's cool box it the master switch, which caused the car to lose power. Labonte had to unbuckle his safety restraints in order to turn on the master switch. Moreno also experienced problems with the master switch while leaving the pits. Labonte will compete in one more Rolex event, next week, at Watkins Glen, with his brother, Terry.

ALLSTATE 400 AT THE BRICKYARD PRE-RACE QUOTE:

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion, 2000 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Winner): "I've always enjoyed racing at Indy because of all the history there. Being from Texas, I followed A.J. Foyt and Johnny Rutherford and they obviously had a lot of success at Indy. My win there in 2000 is really special and, obviously, one of the biggest wins of my career. (What would a second win at the Brickyard mean?): "It'd be a big accomplishment for sure. Only a couple of guys have won the Brickyard more than once, so to put our name on that list would be a pretty special. We had a good test there and learned a lot. We've had a good couple of weeks. We ran OK at Chicago, and were good at New Hampshire and Pocono, plus we had a pretty good test at Indy during that time. The team morale is up and we've got some momentum to build on. We just need to keep going and keep running well." (About competing Rolex Grand American Series event last week at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.): "I had fun, but I would have had more fun if we'd finished better. The cool box hit the master switch early in the race. I had to take the belts off to reach the switch, and I didn't want to do that at speed. Can you blame me? I spun and it took me awhile to get going again because I had to unbuckle and buckle the belts back up. It didn't happen to me again, but it happened to Roberto (Moreno) too. We would have been OK without that problem. I wasn't even going to lose a position with the spin. The car was understeering, but it was OK. The tires and brakes were good."

-jgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Roberto Moreno , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Brian Vickers , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing