Bobby Labonte to run at Atlanta

Bobby Labonte To Kick Off 2005 Chevrolet Silverado All Star Program Paint Scheme On No. 47 Silverado To Feature Country Music Star Phil Vassar And "Nashville" Vassar Named Grand Marshal and Will Sing National Anthem for World Financial Group...

Bobby Labonte To Kick Off 2005 Chevrolet Silverado All Star Program

Paint Scheme On No. 47 Silverado To Feature Country Music Star Phil Vassar And "Nashville"

Vassar Named Grand Marshal and Will Sing National Anthem for World Financial Group 200

STATESVILLE, NC -- 2000 NASCAR Cup Champion Bobby Labonte will kick off the 2005 Chevrolet Silverado All Star program behind the wheel of the Chevrolet "Nashville" All Star Phil Vassar Silverado on March 18 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The World Financial Group 200 will be Labonte's fourth NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) start and his third as the driver of the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports fielded No. 47 Silverado.

Country music star Phil Vassar, whose latest Arista Nashville album "Shaken Not Stirred" will highlight the paint scheme of the No. 47 Silverado, has been named the Grand Marshal of the race and will kick off event number three of the 2005 NCTS season with his rendition our "National Anthem." In addition, Vassar will serve as the honorary starter of the race waving the green flag as the 36-truck field thunders out of turn four.

"It's going to be pretty cool racing in the Craftsman Truck Series, especially at Atlanta, where we've had a lot of NEXTEL Cup Series success in the past, " said Labonte. "I had a blast drivingtwo truck races last year withMorgan Dollar Motorsports the No. 47 Chevy Silverado. It'll be a neat deal to have Phil Vassar'snameon the hood at Atlanta. He's very talentedon the piano, and agreat singer and songwriter. Hopefully, we can take him to victory lane."

In 24 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Labonte has notched six wins, 12 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes and only two DNF (Did Not Finish), both due to mechanical problems. Although he finished second, Labonte treated fans to one of the most exciting finishes in NEXTEL Cup competition at the Georgia oval in March 2000 when he and the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. raced the closing laps of the race side-by-side for win. As the checkered flag was held up for the pair as they exited turn four, the two banged off one another with Earnhardt barely taking the trip to victory lane by just the width of the paint on the front bumper of his black Monte Carlo.

Joining Chevrolet Silverado and Vassar as a partner on Labonte's truck is the Nashville Visitors and Convention Bureau. "Nashville" will be featured for the first time in a major NASCAR series on the rear quarter panels of the No. 47 at the Atlanta event.

"The popularity of motorsports combined with Chevrolet and Phil Vassar,made our participation an easy decision," said Butch Spyridon, president, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Music city belongs in the Silverado All Star program."

As teammate to Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado driver Dennis Setzer, Labonte wheeled the No. 47 to an impressive third place finish in the Kroger 200 on October 23, 2004 at Martinsville Speedway coming from the 35th starting position when qualifying was cancelled due to rain. His second appearance with the team at Miami-Homestead Speedway on November 19, 2004 ended with engine failure shortly after the Texas native took the lead and showed his strength as the truck to beat. Labonte's NCTS start came in October 1996 at Phoenix International Raceway where he finished 34th after engine problems brought an early end to his day.

In the early days of their careers, Labonte and Setzer waged great battles in their late models at Caraway Speedway near Asheboro, NC. The pair battled to a tie in championship points one season with Labonte taking the crown as a result of having more wins.

"Dennis is a good friend," Labonte continued. "He and I had some great battles back in the late 80's at Caraway Speedway. We were rivals, but very friendly rivals. I think people tried to make it a bigger rivalry than it was, like we hated each other or something like that. That wasn't true at all. All the times I raced him, I don't think he ever touched me or I ever touched him. It was just good, clean racing that was a lot of fun. So, we've always raced each other close, but clean."

"Having Bobby as our teammate is a win-win for everybody," said Setzer. "Not only is it fun to race against him again, but his experience and success, especially at Atlanta, is a valuable asset to our No. 46 Silverado team. We have an excellent opportunity to get a one-two finish for our Silverados."

Vassar began his career performing his growing repertoire of original songs at his Nashville club-restaurant. Before embarking on his solo career, which has produced more than half a dozen Top 10 hits (including his break out #1 single "Just Another Day In Paradise"), Vassar penned hits for a number of top artists including Tim McGraw ("My Next Thirty Years"), Alan Jackson ("Right on the Money"), and Jo Dee Messina ("Bye Bye"). Englebert Humperdinck also recorded "Once in a While," a composition that Vassar penned in the beginning of his career with a fellow bartender. He has earned numerous songwriting awards as well as new artist distinctions from Academy of County Music (ACM), Country Music Association (CMA), R&R Magazine and Gavin. His current album, "Shaken Not Stirred", has already produced the #1 single "In A Real Love", and the hit follow up single "I'll Take That As A Yes (The Hot Tub Song)." Vassar is one of three celebrity judges on the USA Network's talent search series "Nashville Star", and his tour schedule keeps him out on the road presenting his energetic performances that has earned fan support and widespread critical acclaim.

Veteran crew chief Randy Goss will again head up the No. 47 team. Goss served as the crew chief on the No. 47 throughout the 2004 season that included the seven Chevy Silverado Celebrity All Star races and two driver development races (J.J. Yeley at Michigan and Kyle Busch, Indianapolis Raceway Park). Under his leadership, in nine NCTS 2004 starts, the No. 47 has an impressive record including four top-five finishes; four top-10s and seven top-15 finishes. Goss' impressive NASCAR record includes championship-winning efforts in both the NCTS and NBS with driver Greg Biffle.

"We had a great time working with Bobby at Martinsville and Homestead last year," said Goss. "He is a crew chief's dream because he really understands a racecar and works closely with his crew to make the right changes to get the best he can out of it during the race. It was pretty exciting for this crew to work with him and get such a great finish the first race and run so well the second time out. We are looking forward to this weekend in Atlanta and we hard going to give it all we can to get the win this time."

Chevrolet Silverado and Morgan-Dollar Motorsports teamed to bring the All Star program to fans at seven NCTS events during the 2004 season-with several more to follow in 2005. At each event, the No. 47 featured a special paint scheme showcasing a prominent musical artist and was driven by a Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver. The 2004 driver lineup included: Michael Waltrip/Sheryl Crow, Charlotte; Robby Gordon/George Thorogood, Bristol; Tony Stewart/Sara Evans, Richmond; Ricky Craven/LeAnn Rimes, New Hampshire; Bobby Labonte/Josh Turner, Martinsville; Ron Hornaday/Big and Rich, Phoenix and Jason Leffler/Joe Nichols, Darlington.

-gm racing-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Jason Leffler , Greg Biffle , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ricky Craven , Dennis Setzer , J.J. Yeley , Kyle Busch