Labonte still savoring Chicago victory Yeley's team takes pit crew award DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 2004) -- There's nothing quite as special for a driver as that first win, but when it comes in dramatic fashion like it did for Justin Labonte...
Labonte still savoring Chicago victory
Yeley's team takes pit crew award
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 2004) -- There's nothing quite as special for a driver as that first win, but when it comes in dramatic fashion like it did for Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Dodge), that just adds icing to the cake.
Labonte had closed to the rear bumper of Mike Wallace (No. 4 GEICO/SportClips Ford) as they headed to the white flag at Chicagoland Speedway, but a pass for the win was far from certain. Suddenly, Wallace slowed as he flashed under the starter's stand on the frontstretch, having run out of fuel. Labonte charged past and scored that precious first victory.
Afterward, the son of two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte and nephew of 1999 NASCAR champ Bobby Labonte didn't do a smoky burnout. He simply took the checkered flag dropped to him by chief starter Kevin Moss and slowly toured the track before heading to Victory Lane.
"The whole family's so excited, because everybody is involved in my racing team here and at the shop," the younger Labonte says. "My dad, my mom [Kim] and grandpa [Bob] have all had so much input on everything, it's kind of a special win. It's pretty cool. I couldn't ask for a better way to win our first race. It surprised us on the last lap there, but we'll take them any way we can get them."
When Labonte got home to Trinity, N.C., his house and shop had been decorated by his sister, Kristy.
"My sister went a little crazy on the decorations in the yard and stuff," Labonte says. "It was a mess when I pulled in. She got the shop and my house and everywhere. She had that stuff hanging all over the place. I had to cut some banners down to get in my front door."
As thrilling as the win was for Labonte, it was just as important for his sponsor. The United States Coast Guard Adm. Thomas H. Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard, is extremely satisfied with Labonte's progress.
"When the Coast Guard signed on to sponsor Justin, we did it knowing that he comes from a winning tradition," Adm. Collins said in a statement. "Justin's action on and off the race track -- from the classy way he celebrated after winning to his efforts as our national safe-boating spokesman -- clearly reflect that this young man is the right partner for the Coast Guard. The men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard look forward to watching Justin's many future wins, and we're proud to say that we were there when it all began."
NEWS & NOTES, PART II
Chevrolet leads in manufacturers' standings ... Chevrolet has built a fairly comfortable lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings for manufacturers in the NASCAR Busch Series. Chevrolet has 12 wins and 146 points to 113 points and five wins for Ford. Dodge is in third place with 89 points and two wins following last Saturday's victory by Justin Labonte at Chicago. The standings are determined by a scoring system in which the highest-finishing manufacturer receives nine points, the second-highest gets six, and third-highest receives four.
Yeley's team claims Chicago McDonald's POWERade title ... The Joe Gibbs Racing crew of J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/The Home Depot Chevrolet) won the McDonald's POWERade Drive-Thru Pit Crew of the Race Award for the Tropicana Twister 300 at Chicago. The Haas CNC Racing crew of Jason Leffler (No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet) leads the Brewco Motorsports crew of David Green (No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac) by 27 points in the season standings.
"We felt like we had a car that could have won the race, but it did not work out in our favor at the end. The guys did a great job in the pits. This was our first top five of the season, and it is evident that we have made tremendous improvements in our program since the beginning of the year. I feel that we can contend at any track we race at." -- Ashton Lewis (No. 46 Lewis Motorsports Chevrolet), after finishing fifth in the Tropicana Twister 300 at Chicago.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Ten years ago this week, on July 16, 1994, Kenny Wallace and Ricky Craven were racing hard for the lead at Myrtle Beach Speedway. They made contact, sending Wallace to the garage area for repairs. As soon as Wallace came back onto the track during a subsequent caution, he rammed Craven's car on the backstretch. As a result, Wallace was penalized five laps for overaggressive driving. Current NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points leader and 2003 runner-up in the championship point standings, Dennis Setzer, went on to win the event for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory.