Talladega race story

Bobby Labonte Captures DieHard 500 at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Bobby Labonte captured the DieHard 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday beating Jimmy Spencer, Dale Jarrett and older brother Terry Labonte...

Bobby Labonte Captures DieHard 500 at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Bobby Labonte captured the DieHard 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday beating Jimmy Spencer, Dale Jarrett and older brother Terry Labonte to the finish line after a thrilling last lap scramble.

Labonte, who won his second NASCAR Winston Cup Series race of the season and the seventh of his career, drove his No. 18 Interstates Batteries Pontiac from the pole position to his first career victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

For a while the race looked like it would be a duplication of last Spring's caution-free Talladega race, as Sunday's event went caution free until lap 109 when the yellow came out for debris. The second caution came out when Kenny Irwin and Johnny Benson blew engines simultaneously on lap 126.

The third caution flag of the day, which significantly altered the outcome of the race, occurred on lap 142 when a spectacular 20-car accident was triggered when the cars of Dale Earnhardt and Ward Burton got together exiting the trioval. The accident eliminated many of race's top contenders including Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, John Andretti and Ken Schrader.

After returning to green on lap 149 of the 188-lap event, the race came down to a last lap shootout among a tight draft of four cars. Labonte, who grabbed the lead from his brother Terry with two laps remaining, was able to hold on over the last two laps to win by a mere .167 seconds.

Talladega Superspeedway lived up to its tradition of being NASCAR's most competitive Superpeedway as the race saw no less than 19 lead changes among nine drivers.

"I knew Jimmy (Spencer) was going to go with me," said Bobby Labonte, whose Pontiac win was the first since restrictor plates first started being used at NASCAR's two largest race tracks. "I knew I wanted to be second before I made my move. I thought I had a strong enough car that if I could get to the lead that I could hold them off. Thankfully, it worked out."

"Bobby Labonte helped me out back at Daytona in February and I helped him out today," said Spencer. "It's pretty hard for a Taurus to win at these restrictor plate tracks. We're still lacking a little bit on the Pontiacs and the Chevrolets. But I'm happy for Bobby and his team, but I'm also happy for our guys."

Labonte led 60 laps en route to victory while averaging 163.439 mph. Labonte earned $141,870 for his efforts.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Johnny Benson