Martinsville II: Bobby Labonte preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005 -- The following are Subway 500 and Kroger 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Care Net/Interstate Batteries Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) for Joe Gibbs Racing, and the No. 16...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005 -- The following are Subway 500 and Kroger 200 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Care Net/Interstate Batteries Chevrolet (NEXTEL Cup) for Joe Gibbs Racing, and the No. 16 Chevy Trucks Chevrolet Silverado (Craftsman Truck Series) for Xpress Motorsports.


* Labonte will attempt to start his 28th NEXTEL CUP race at Martinsville Speedway. He won the spring race in 2002 and won the pole for the spring race in 1995.

* Labonte has four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes at Martinsville. He has finished fourth or better in four of the last eight races at Martinsville.

* In the spring race at Martinsville, Labonte started sixth, led twice for 32 laps and was in the top five for nearly all of the first 399 laps of the 500-lap event. However, on Lap 399, while Labonte was in third-place, smoke appeared from the back of the car. He stayed on the track and fell back to eighth before pitting on Lap 435. His day ended in the pits when it was determined that a valve problem could not be fixed.

* In 2004, Labonte started 23rd and finished second in the spring race, his tying his best finish of the season. He also finished second at Darlington in the spring. In the fall race, Labonte started 17th and finished 18th.

* Labonte is 25th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. He has 2,957 points and trails 24th-place Casey Mears by 61 points.

* Labonte has scored NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series victories at Martinsville and is the only driver to win in all three NASCAR divisions at the same track. On Oct. 18, 1992, Labonte won the Winston Classic Busch Series event, followed by the Virginia 500 NEXTEL Cup event on April 14, 2002 and then the Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series event on April 9, 2005.

* The primary car for the Subway 500 is chassis No. 64, the car Labonte used earlier this season at Martinsville and tested at the track on Oct. 12. Prior to spring race, Labonte had not driven chassis No. 64 since the 2003 season. He finished second with the car in the spring races at Martinsville and Richmond in 2003 and finished sixth with it in the fall 2003 Richmond race. He also finished 14th in the June New Hampshire event in 2003.

* The back-up car will be No. 85, which was used in 2004 at Phoenix where Labonte started 27th and finished ninth. The only other time the car was used was in 2003 at Indianapolis when Labonte started eighth and finished 22nd.


* Labonte will attempt to start his third Craftsman Truck Series event at Martinsville and the seventh truck race of his career. He scored his first career Craftsman Truck Series win in April at Martinsville and finished third in the 2004 fall race at Martinsville.

* Labonte has three Craftsman Truck Series starts in 2005. In addition to his win at Martinsville, he finished second to Ron Hornaday by just .008 of a second in March at Atlanta. He was in the top-10 with less 10 laps to go in the June truck race at historic Michigan International Speedway, but was involved in a multi-truck accident and finished 32nd.

* In six Craftsman Truck Series starts, Labonte has finished first (Martinsville, spring 2005), second (Atlanta, spring 2005) and third (Martinsville, fall 2004). In his other three starts he has failed to finish (Phoenix 1996: mechanical; Homestead 2004: mechanical; Michigan 2005: accident).


BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, 2000 NASCAR Champion, 1991 Busch Series Champion): "I've always enjoyed racing at Martinsville. It's just a great place to see a race. The cars aren't so dependent on aero there and you have to use a good balance of aggressiveness and finesse to get the job done. You have to be smart with your brake pedal and not abuse the brakes in the early going, especially if you don't have a great starting spot. We ran well there in the spring, but had an engine problem late. That was pretty frustrating, because we were strong all day. We had a decent test up there last week and we'll see what we can do." (About driving in the Truck Series): "I'm excited about it. I love driving in the Craftsman Truck Series, and we've had two strong runs in the trucks at Martinsville. The 16 team needed a driver, and I was more than happy to help out. It's a great team and a good bunch of guys, so I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can put the Chevy Silverado in victory lane."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Casey Mears , Ron Hornaday Jr.