Labonte ready for the second round at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 14, 2012) - - Round two for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) takes place this Sunday during the Pure Michigan 400.

Bobby Labonte
Bobby Labonte

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the first bout and may favor the two-mile D-shaped oval, but no one favors it more than driver Bobby Labonte.

“A long time ago when a fan asked me my favorite track, my response was Michigan,” Labonte said. “Today, if you were to ask me, I’d give you the same answer.”

Michigan is a fast-track with multiple grooves where the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has won three rounds - - not to mention he also has nine top-five, 16 top-10 finishes, four pole awards and has led 241 laps. His average start is 15.825 and his average finish is 16.925 at the two-mile D-shaped oval.

In the most recent event at MIS, the JTG Daugherty Racing driver crossed the finish line 16th. This time around Labonte has Clorox on the hood of his No. 47 Toyota Camry and looks to improve upon that finish with interim crew chief Brian Burns at the helm.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Brian and I’m looking forward to this weekend because we had a decent run there in June,” Labonte said. “Brian’s jumped right in and done a great job. He is very smart, works hard and is very organized.”

Burns, who received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering technology from Purdue University (Indianapolis), has been in the sport for years. The first role in racing for Burns was race engineer from 2003 to 2009 with Chip Ganassi Racing. His first crew chief role came at Front Row Motorsports with driver Travis Kvapil beginning in June 2010 for the remainder of the season and was a lead engineer before stepping up.

The Indiana native then moved over to Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) at the beginning of the 2011 season as a race engineer. He was assigned to JTG Daugherty Racing to produce and analyze fully dynamic simulation results, coordinate all geometry setup changes along with a laundry list of other responsibilities.

At the end of the season, he served as interim crew chief for Labonte in the final six events and then moved to the Harrisburg, N.C. shop at the beginning of 2012. His input is invaluable to the success of JTG Daugherty Racing while the team owners search for a long-term crew chief.

“We have some remarkable employees at JTG Daugherty Racing,” co-owner Tad Geschickter said. “We’re lucky to have Brian, who could fit seamlessly into the crew chief role for the time being. He’s very intelligent, talented and a good communicator. He's backed up by a bunch of talent on our road crew. I like the teamwork I see from the whole group and, of course, having Bobby Hutchens around to help with race day calls is huge for us."

Before making a career for himself in racing, Burns was in the Indiana Army National Guard. His title on his résumé is rather long - - Sergeant E-5, Tube-Launched Optically-Tracked Wire-Guided Missile Specialist (TOW) - - but it helped prepared him for one of the toughest jobs in NASCAR.

“The military has taught me a lot of valuable skills that help make me an even more effective leader, such as, discipline, organization, and how to effectively work with a team of specialists,” said Burns, whose merits include Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Physical Fitness Soldier of Excellence Award, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, and Top Gun Award. “I’m grateful for the opportunity and look forward to working with everyone at Michigan this weekend.”

Source: JTG Daugherty Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Chip Ganassi , Travis Kvapil
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , JTG Daugherty Racing , Front Row Motorsports , Michael Waltrip Racing
Article type Preview
Tags daugherty, jtg, labonte, toyota