Las Vegas: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, March 8, 2005 -- The following are UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing: UAW-DAIMLERCHRYSLER 400 PRE-RACE ...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, March 8, 2005 -- The following are UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing:

UAW-DAIMLERCHRYSLER 400 PRE-RACE NOTES:

* Labonte will attempt to start his eighth NEXTEL Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He's won the Bud Pole twice at Las Vegas (1999 and 2003), which puts him in a tie with Dale Jarrett for most NEXTEL Cup poles at Las Vegas.

* Labonte has three top-five and four top-10 finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His best finish was in 2003 when he finished fourth after starting on the Bud Pole.

* In seven NEXTEL Cup races at Las Vegas, Labonte has started in the top 10 five times, which ties him with Michael Waltrip for the lead in that category. Unfortunately for Labonte and Waltrip, only one of the seven NEXTEL Cup Series races at Las Vegas has been won from a top-10 starting position. Mark Martin won the inaugural race in 1998 after starting fifth.

* Labonte has completed 1,745 of a possible 1,750 laps at Las Vegas (99.7 percent). He trails only Matt Kenseth (99.9) and Sterling Marling (99.8) in this category. Kenseth has only five starts, however, while Labonte and Marlin have seven.

* In 2004, Labonte started seventh and finished eighth at Las Vegas.

* Labonte rebounded from a 43rd-place finish in the Daytona 500 (engine) to finish 13th in the Auto Club 500 at California. It marked the fourth consecutive year that the last-place finisher at the Daytona 500 rebounded to finish 14th or better in the next race. In 2002, Tony Stewart finished fourth, in 2003, Ryan Newman finished 14th and in 2004, Mark Martin finished 12th. All of those races were conducted at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C.

* With his 13th-place finish at California, Labonte moved from 43rd in points to 31st in points. Interestingly, despite their 43rd-place finish at Daytona, Stewart, Newman and Martin all managed to finish in the top-10 in points at the end of the season. Stewart won the 2002 championship, while Newman finished sixth in 2003 and Martin finished fourth in 2004.

* The primary chassis for the Auto Club 500 will be chassis No. 87, the same car Labonte drove to 13th-place at California. In 2004, Labonte drove the car to second place at Darlington (spring) and won the Bud Pole with the car April 2 at Texas. He finished fifth with the car May 2 at California, eighth June 20 at Michigan International Speedway, 13th May 30 at Charlotte, 15th Aug. 8 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and 18th July 11 at Chicagoland Speedway. On Oct. 14, Labonte crashed the car during practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the fall Atlanta race, Labonte used the car to start 19th and finish 20th. He also used the car at the fall race at Atlanta in 2003, where he started second and finished fifth.

* The back-up car will be chassis 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 at California, where he finished second and at Pocono 2, where he finished 30th (engine). The car was driven in 2004 at Dover where Labonte started 18th and finished 25th in the spring and started sixth and finished 14th in the fall. Labonte also used the car in August at Bristol where he started 19th and finished 16th and in November at Darlington when he started 15th and finished ninth.

UAW-DAIMLERCHRYSLER 400 PRE-RACE QUOTE:

BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion): "We started digging out of the hole from our Daytona problems with a decent run at California. We finished in the top-15, but we need to take it to the next level and consistently run in the top-10. We're still trying to learn about the new package for 2005, which everybody is trying to do. Some guys are figuring it out faster than others. We had a pretty good test out in Las Vegas in January. We learned some things and, hopefully, we'll be able to apply that to the race this weekend. "

-jgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Ryan Newman , Mark Martin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing