BOBBY LABONTE FIGHTS FOR 29TH-PLACE FINISH AFTER TOUGH DAY AT MARTINSVILLE Martinsville, Va. -- After a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon, the skies cleared on Monday for Bobby Labonte and the 42 other drivers in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 to...
BOBBY LABONTE FIGHTS FOR 29TH-PLACE FINISH AFTER TOUGH DAY AT MARTINSVILLE
Martinsville, Va. -- After a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon, the skies cleared on Monday for Bobby Labonte and the 42 other drivers in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 to hit the track at Martinsville Speedway where Labonte brought home a 29th-place finish in the TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet after a long-fought battle on the half-mile track.
Despite having a strong car in practice, inclement weather caused NASCAR officials to cancel qualifying and set the starting lineup based on the points standings, landing Labonte in the 29th starting position. Labonte quickly picked his opponents off, one by one, in the opening laps of the race and passed fellow drivers Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya to gain five positions before the first caution period.
The team continued to make improvements on Labonte's car until the No. 71 was caught in an on-track incident involving at least five other drivers on lap 170.
"There was nothing we could do on that one," Labonte said. "I was on the outside lane and did everything I could to stay out of the action, but I ran out of real estate and made contact with the wall."
Labonte brought his Impala SS down pit road and the crew went to work repairing everything from the splitter and fenders to the toe of the car, which had been knocked out due to the contact.
"I really hate it because we were having a good run and I know we would have finished on the lead lap, which can be tough at a short track like Martinsville," Labonte said. "The guys did a great job to get me repaired as quickly as possible and keep the car in the race and in the top-35 in points."
Throughout the remaining six cautions of the race, Labonte continued to be as aggressive as possible and gained positions and laps back to finish 29th in the race, which ended eight laps past the 500 laps for which it was scheduled after only one attempt at a Green-White-Checkered finish.
"The whole team really pulled together today to make the best out of a bad situation," team owner Kevin Buckler said. "It's unfortunate when you're caught up in someone else's incident, but that's part of racing. They put that behind them and really focused on the bigger picture, which was keeping us secured in the points standings. I think that level of maturity says a lot for a team that's as young as we are."
NASCAR's drivers and fans will have next weekend off, but will be ready to travel to the desert for Saturday night racing action under the lights at Phoenix International Raceway on April 10.
-source: trg motorsports