HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2005 -- The following are UAW Ford 500 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. UAW-FORD 500 PRE-RACE NOTES: Labonte...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2005 -- The following are UAW Ford 500 pre-race notes and quotes for Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing.
UAW-FORD 500 PRE-RACE NOTES:
Labonte will attempt to start his 26th NEXTEL Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. He has one win and one Bud Pole at Talladega, both coming in the spring of 1998. He 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 the 2004 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 race at Talladega, Labonte started 15th and suffered minor damage in a 25-car accident on Lap 134. He resumed the race with a fixed race car and was battling for second as late as Lap 159 of the 188-lap event. However, his engine expired just 14 laps from the finish and he finished 23rd.
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 24th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. He has 2,672 points and trails 23rd-place Ricky Rudd by 74 points.
The primary car for the UAW Ford 500 is Chassis No. 82 which Labonte drove in May at Talladega when he started 15th and finished 23rd and in July at Daytona where he started 22nd and finished 35th after being involved in an early accident. In 2004, Labonte used the car in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, when he started 16th and finished seventh and in the fall race at Talladega when he finished 35th after a late-race accident. In July 2003, former JGR driver Mike Bliss started 32nd and finished 26th in the car in the July Daytona event.
The back-up car will be No. 95, the car Labonte used in the 2005 Daytona 500 when he completed only 14 laps due to an engine problem.
UAW-FORD 500 PRE-RACE QUOTE:
BOBBY LABONTE (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet; 2000 NASCAR Champion, 1991 Busch Series 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've had some decent runs on the restrictor plate tracks this year, but we haven't been able to finish well. We've run up front at times and the cars have been good. Hopefully, we can miss everything this weekend and get a good finish."