Talladega II: Petty Enterprises race report

Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team finished sixth in Sunday's 500 mile event at the Talladega Superspeedway. The finish is the highest of the year for the 2000 Sprint Cup champion and his second top-10 finish of the ...

Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team finished sixth in Sunday's 500 mile event at the Talladega Superspeedway. The finish is the highest of the year for the 2000 Sprint Cup champion and his second top-10 finish of the season. Terry Labonte guided the No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge to a 17th place finish as Petty Enterprises enjoyed one of their most complete performances of the season.

The race featured a NASCAR-record 64 lead changes among 28 drivers, but was also marred by two red flag periods following multi-car accidents involving six contenders in the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup.'

Bobby Labonte began the race from the 32nd position, but quickly used the 'high' line to race his way inside the top-15 by lap 8. During a lap 33 caution period, crew chief Jeff Meendering brought B. Labonte down pit road for chassis adjustments. They would be the only adjustments to a fast No. 43 Dodge for the rest of the afternoon. After a big 'push' from the No. 26 car on lap 52, B. Labonte found himself running in the top-5. He was able to work his way to his race-high position of second on lap 60. The race would feature some breathtaking moments for the team as well. As one of the multi-car wrecks unfolded in front of B. Labonte on lap 68, he was able to make it through the chaos without hurting his car. He would spend the rest of the race inside the top-20. His 6th place finish was the highest for the Dodge Motorsports camp. B. Labonte finished inside the top-5 in several key statistics including Green Flag passes (1st), Fastest Drivers Early in a Run (4th), Fastest Drivers Late in a Run (3rd) and Green Flag Speed (4th, 195.061 mph). B. Labonte moved up one spot to 19th in the Sprint Cup Series point's standings.

"We had a good car today, for sure," said B. Labonte. "I could drive to the front when I needed to, but we just didn't get enough help at the end to go for the win. It got pretty crazy out there at times, but that's Talladega. We missed a couple really big wrecks and were able to come home with a top-10. That feels good. Now we get to look forward to a 'home' game at one of my favorite racetracks with a little momentum on our side."

Terry Labonte, making his 53rd start at the Alabama oval, took the green flag from the 23rd position. Much the same as his brother, T. Labonte used a fast racecar and small adjustments by crew chief Stewart Cooper to keep his No. 45 Dodge inside the top-25 throughout the first 60 laps. However he was caught up in wreck on lap 68 and while the damage was relatively minor, he lost several laps as the crew made the necessary repairs to help the aerodynamics of the car. T. Labonte kept his car in position to pick up several Lucky Dog Awards and through that hard work and great driving he was able to take the checkered flag on the lead lap in 17th position.

"Things were going good until the 83 lost that tire. That's the wreck I got in. It tore up our car and put us behind. I didn't see what happened to cause that last big wreck. It was typical Talladega. One mistake, a flat tire, something like that can collect a lot of cars. We used up the back end of the car in the early wreck, but before that it was pretty good. I was hoping we could survive, be there at the end and sneak a good finish out of it. Anyway, it was fun."

-credit: pe

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte