Labonte to make season debut in 'bilingual' car DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 30, 2004) -- After months of preparation, Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Dodge) is finally ready to get back in the game for keeps in the April 3...
Labonte to make season debut in 'bilingual' car
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 30, 2004) -- After months of preparation, Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Dodge) is finally ready to get back in the game for keeps in the April 3 O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Designed to look like a Coast Guard cutter knifing through water, Labonte's bright orange and blue car will carry signage on the hood and quarter panels. What makes the Labonte Motorsports mount special, however, is that the right rear quarter panel will read, "Guarda Costas," the Spanish translation of "Coast Guard."
"The Coast Guard continuously strives for a workforce that reflects America, and promotes an environment that places high value on individual dignity, respect and professional growth," says Admiral Thomas Collins, Coast Guard Commandant. "Diversity in the workforce contributes measurably to creative thinking and innovation so critical to excellence."
The Coast Guard is targeting minority audiences during the season with a variety of programs. The "Guarda Costas" translation will appear on the car in each of its scheduled 15 races. Prior to the May 1 NASCAR Busch Series race at California Speedway, the Coast Guard plans to host 30 engineering majors from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in Southern California who will observe pre-race technical inspection and receive a tour of the garage area.
Labonte tested at Texas recently, and is looking forward to racing in the state where his father, Terry, and uncle, Bobby, were born. Bobby Labonte will also race in the O'Reilly 300, driving the No. 29 ESGR Army Guard & Reserve Chevrolet fielded by Richard Childress Racing.
"It's going to be really special to race at Texas," the younger Labonte said.
"We have a lot of people coming to the race and I can't wait to get out on the track. We have so many friends and family here, it adds much more to racing in Texas. It is my dad's favorite track, he has had some great runs here and it is going to be a good weekend."
His expectations are fairly simple.
"This won't be any different than any other race we have run in the past," Labonte continued. "You go to every race expecting to run up front and be in contention to win the race. If you're not doing that, you have something wrong with you."
Terry Labonte, a two-time NASCAR champion, was also pleased with his son's test at Texas.
"Actually, Justin ran well in the NASCAR Busch Series car," the elder Labonte says. "They are going to come back with a little better engine. He was pretty good in practice and they got off to a good start testing with the team. Things are going well for them."