LABONTE'S GRAND PRIX VICTORIOUS AGAIN LONG POND, Pa. (June 20, 1999) -- Interstate Batteries Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte won for the second time in three races with a gutsy performance in Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono International ...
LABONTE'S GRAND PRIX VICTORIOUS AGAIN
LONG POND, Pa. (June 20, 1999) -- Interstate Batteries Pontiac driver Bobby Labonte won for the second time in three races with a gutsy performance in Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono International Raceway, earning the Grand Prix's third victory of the NASCAR Winston Cup season.
Labonte referred to the track as a "thorn in my side" prior to the 15th race of the season, but his performance came up all roses. Aided by a keen four-tire call by crew chief Jimmy Makar on his final pit stop, Labonte took the lead with 15 laps to go and never looked back. Two weeks ago, Labonte also won at Dover, Del.
"I really couldn't believe it at the end, but the Interstate Batteries Pontiac held on," Labonte said. "Jimmy made the right call. We were pretty awesome today. If we were out front we were awfully good. And our Grand Prix was up front at the end."
In 12 previous starts at Pocono, Labonte had only one top-10 finish. But from the start he was strong this time around. He took the lead on the first lap and led three times for 27 of the 200 laps.
"I think Bobby's figured out how to get around Pocono, that's for sure," Makar said with a laugh.
The win enabled Labonte to rise from third to second in the point standings. He trails leader Dale Jarrett by 89 points.
Pontiac now has more wins after 15 races than it posted through all of the 33-race season last year. After 15 races, Pontiac has three wins, five poles, 19 top-five and 42 top-10 finishes. At the same point last season, Pontiac had only five top-five and 15 top-10 finishes.
Labonte is in the midst of his best-ever season. He's logged 11 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes, and has logged seven consecutive top-five runs. He is the only driver to lead 14 of 15 races this season.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart also continued his hot streak. He finished sixth in the Home Depot Pontiac, earning his sixth top-10 run in the last seven races. M&M's Pontiac driver Ernie Irvan earned his second consecutive top-10 finish with an eighth-place run.