BOBBY LABONTE FIGHTS BROKEN GEAR TO FINISH 38TH IN THE SHELBY AMERICAN 400 Las Vegas -- The Las Vegas odds were not with Bobby Labonte and the No. 71 TaxSlayer.com team as they battled a broken rear gear on the No. 71 Chevrolet to bring home a...
BOBBY LABONTE FIGHTS BROKEN GEAR TO FINISH 38TH IN THE SHELBY AMERICAN 400
Las Vegas -- The Las Vegas odds were not with Bobby Labonte and the No. 71 TaxSlayer.com team as they battled a broken rear gear on the No. 71 Chevrolet to bring home a 38th-place finish in the Shelby American 400.
The TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet began the race in 29th position after a solid qualifying run by Labonte on Friday afternoon. Though he was battling loose conditions, Crew Chief Doug Randolph had changes in mind that he felt would put the car in higher in the pack. However, after only 40 laps of competition, Labonte and his team went to the garage to repair a broken rear gear, returning to the track on lap 86 and scored 46 laps behind the leader.
"Today was really tough for us as a team. I smelled gear oil for a few laps, then I could tell that it broke," Labonte said. "The guys did a good job changing the gear in the garage. I know it's a heartbreaker for everyone, but it's part of the game and we just have to move forward and get everything we can next week."
After the TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet returned to the track, the crew continued to adjust on it to make it as competitive as possible. The finish did drop Labonte to six spots to 31st-place in the points standings, but still keeps the team within the all-important "Top 35" as the season draws closer to the 5th race and will lock Labonte into each race.
"Having a gear break at Las Vegas just isn't something you see very often," Randolph said. "You expect it at a shorter track like Martinsville, but not at Las Vegas. The good news is that, once we returned to the track, we were running lap times that would have had us in the top-15. We won't know the full story until we can break the car down in the shop, but I know we'll get to the bottom of it."
Team owner Kevin Buckler was disheartened by TRG's run of luck, but is determined to make the best of the scenario.
"I just hate this for our team and our sponsors, but these things happen and you just have to take them as they come," Buckler said. "I know we'll ultimately be able to capitalize on this and learn from it, and we'll have great support from our technical partners at Richard Childress Racing so we can make sure something like this doesn't happen again."
The team will take to the track next on Sunday, March 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
-source: trg motorsports