Labonte puts himself in good position By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 1999) Considering how Terry Labonte has finished in restrictor-plate races lately, he has to be thrilled with how he will be starting Thursday's Gatorade ...
Labonte puts himself in good position By Brett Borden
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 1999) Considering how Terry Labonte has finished in restrictor-plate races lately, he has to be thrilled with how he will be starting Thursday's Gatorade 125-Mile Qualifying Race in preparation for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Labonte, who never has won the Daytona 500 in 20 tries, has finished sixth or better in three straight races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
Labonte will go to the post in the fourth starting spot in Thursday's Gatorade 125 after he posted the seventh-best time in Bud Pole Qualifying on Saturday. He turned in a speed of 193.978 mph in his Kellogg's Chevrolet.
Strong starting positions are nothing new to Labonte, and he hopes he can add to his resume by doing well in the Gatorade 125. In his 20 Daytona 500 starts, Labonte has cranked up his engines from the front five rows eight times, and from the front row twice. He won't get that front-row spot this year (those spots were determined on Saturday), but he is pleased with the outcome, nonetheless.
"We've got to be pretty happy with that," said Labonte. "That's quicker than we practiced."
With Dale Earnhardt shedding his famous Daytona 500 jinx by winning the race last season, that burden has been shifted to drivers such as Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin, perennial stars who have yet to stand in Victory Lane in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series' grandest stage. It's an old story line, one which Labonte hopes he can vanquish with a new machine around him.
"It's a brand new car," said Labonte. "We've got to work hard now and get it ready for the qualifying race. We'll go from there, but I feel pretty good."
Someone else who feels pretty good is team owner Rick Hendrick, who saw Wally Dallenbach qualify 17th, Labonte place seventh and Jeff Gordon capture the Bud Pole Award.
"I thought we had a chance, but everybody is so fast," said Hendrick. "We've got to do this every week now. I'm really proud of them. For an old man with leukemia, I'm pretty pumped up."
Source: NASCAR Online