HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, April 26, 2005 -- The following are Aaron's 499 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. AARON'S 499 PRE-RACE NOTES: * Labonte will...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, April 26, 2005 -- The following are Aaron's 499 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing.
AARON'S 499 PRE-RACE NOTES:
* Labonte will attempt to start his 25th NEXTEL Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. He has one win and one Bud Pole at Talladega, both coming in the spring of 1998 and won IROC races at Talladega in 2000 and 2001.
* Labonte has six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at Talladega. He has struggled recently, however, finishing in the top 10 only twice since 2000. He was fifth in the 2001 spring race and 10th in last year's spring race.
* In a seven-race stretch between 1996-1999, Labonte never finished lower than eighth and scored four top-five finishes.
* In the spring of 2004, Labonte started 19th and finished 10th in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega. In the EA Sports 500 last fall, he started 27th and finished 35th after being involved in an accident with Sterling Marlin and Brendan Gaughan. Labonte completed 177 of the 188 laps.
* Labonte is 34th in the 2005 NEXTEL Cup point standings and has endured miserable luck throughout the season suffering engine problems at Daytona and Martinsville and being involved in early accidents at Las Vegas, Atlanta, Bristol and Texas. However, he started fourth and finished sixth last week at Phoenix.
* The primary car for the Aaron's 499 is chassis No. 82, the car Labonte started 16th and finished seventh with in 2004 at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. He also used the car in the fall race at Talladega when he finished 35th after an accident. In July 2003, former JGR driver Mike Bliss started 32nd and finished 26th in the same car at Daytona.
* The back-up car will be No. 95, the car Labonte used in the 2005 Daytona 500. He started 20th and finished 43rd after an engine failure ended his day on Lap 14.
GRAND AMERICAN ROLEX SERIES NOTE:
* Labonte will drive demonstration laps in the No. 44 Doran Labonte Racing DORAN JE4 Pontiac Grand American Rolex Series car prior to NEXTEL Cup drivers' introductions Sunday morning at Talladega. Labonte, along with brother, Terry, IRL IndyCar Series standout Brian Herta and road-racing star Jan Magnussen finished ninth with the car in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in February. Bobby Labonte will drive the car in three more Rolex events in 2005: the Brumos Porsche 250 June 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway, the 400-kilometer event July 29-31 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and the Watkins Glen 200 Aug. 11-12 at Watkins Glen International. Events at Daytona and Watkins Glen are in conjunction with NEXTEL Cup Series events, while the Birmingham event is during the off-week between the Pennsylvania 500 and the Brickyard 400.
AARON'S 499 PRE-RACE QUOTE:
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion): "It's going to be a crapshoot at Talladega. It always is. It doesn't matter where you start at places like this and Daytona. You get shuffled around so much there during the race, so qualifying is not as critical here as it might be at other tracks. The important thing is to be there at the end and see what happens. We had a good run at Phoenix, and, hopefully, we can capitalize on that momentum, although there's obviously a difference between a one-mile track and Talladega. It's just totally different." (About the demonstration laps in the Rolex Series car): "That should be a pretty neat deal. Those cars are so different from a stock car, and I had a blast driving at Daytona. I'm looking forward to doing the three events later this year. Hopefully, the laps before the Talladega race will convince some people to check out the race in Birmingham in July."