Former NASCAR Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte announces plans to become the first American champion to compete full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
After competing for the first time last summer in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Brands Hatch, Bobby Labonte has decided he wants to compete for a series championship.
Labonte, the first driver to win championships in two different NASCAR national series highlighted by his Cup championship in 2000, will compete full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2018 in hopes of adding an international title to his Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Labonte will drive the No. 18 YACCO Toyota for RDV Competition. He finished 14th and 10th last year at the Longfield, England, road course driving for Alan Caffi Motorsport.
“Joining the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is a great opportunity,” said Labonte. “At the Brands Hatch race last year, I was definitely impressed by the competitiveness of the series. The testing we did with Frederic Gabillon last fall and putting this together with Franck Violas and the RDV team gives me a great advantage. Having the opportunity to represent YACCO as a sponsor on a global level just adds to the excitement, and I look forward to all the growth and new opportunities this could bring.”
A huge moment for NASCAR's Euro Series
The NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee was the first American NASCAR champion to compete in the series that has been sanctioned by NASCAR since 2012. Adding Labonte’s racing experience and success will continue to improve exposure for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
“It is a huge milestone for the Whelen Euro Series to welcome an American champion of Bobby’s caliber to contend for the title,” said Jerome Galpin, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President and CEO. “This is another sign of the international appeal the series has delivered. We are proud to have a strong international lineup of 30 drivers and teams.”
NASCAR has recently announced a restructuring of its international team and this is an example of that renewed commitment to all international series that compete under the NASCAR banner.
“Bobby Labonte is one of the greatest champions in NASCAR history, and his participation in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is a huge win for fans and competitors alike,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief International Officer. "Labonte's full-time involvement gives American fans an even stronger connection to the series, while offering our European fans a close look at one of NASCAR’s greats.”
Labonte joins forces with two-time championship runner-up Frederic Gabillon and rising star Ulysse Delsaux for the French title-contending RDV Competition team.
A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Labonte is one of the most decorated drivers in NASCAR history.
He is one of four drivers to win championships in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (2000) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (1991). He won 21 races at NASCAR’s highest level, including three crown jewel races – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He is one of 29 drivers to win a race in all three NASCAR national series.
The most anticipated season in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series history kicks off this weekend in Valencia, Spain.