WS: Labonte family - Thunder Hill spotlight

Allstate Texas Thunder 150 at Thunder Hill a Family Affair for Labontes * NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series set to ope 2007 season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2007) -- The Labonte name has long been a sentimental favorite of...

Allstate Texas Thunder 150 at Thunder Hill a Family Affair for Labontes
* NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series set to ope 2007 season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 20, 2007) -- The Labonte name has long been a sentimental favorite of NASCAR fans in Texas. Those fans will get to see two generations of Labontes in the Lone Star State as the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series kicks off its 2007 season with the Allstate Texas Thunder 150 on March 31 at Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, just south of Austin.

Two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion Terry Labonte, named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers of all-time, will be the Grand Marshal -- while his son, Justin, is set to compete in the race.

Terry Labonte, originally from Corpus Christi, compiled a record of 22 wins, 182 top-five and 361 top-10 finishes in 848 NEXTEL Cup races between 1978 and 2006.

Labonte won his first championship in 1984, while driving for Billy Hagan. His second Cup Series title came in 1996 for car owner Rick Hendrick. Labonte opted to cut back from a full schedule after 2004, choosing to run limited events in 2005 and 2006.

In addition to NASCAR's premier series, Labonte competed in 124 races in the NASCAR Busch Series -- scoring 11 wins, 47 top-five and 68 top-10 finishes. He also raced in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, scoring one win in three starts in the inaugural year of the series. In addition, he was invited to race in the IROC series eight years.

Justin, meanwhile, raced in 76 NASCAR Busch Series events between 1999 and 2006 -- registering a win in Chicago in 2004. The 26-year-old second-generation competitor also has one start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to his credit.

This will mark the third consecutive season for the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series to visit the 3/8-mile track in Kyle. It will be the first time, however, for the event to serve as the season opener for the West's oldest stock car racing circuit.

Last year's race featured a fierce back-and-forth battle between eventual series champion Eric Holmes and Mike David. The outcome was not decided until the final lap, when contact between the two left David's car spinning and Holmes charging to the finish line.

NEWS & NOTES

* HDNet set to kick off season -- HDNet will kick off its live coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division in 2007, with a high definition broadcast of the Allstate Texas Thunder 150 from Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, on March 31. HDNet coverage will include seven consecutive races from the West Series, followed by seven consecutive races from the NASCAR Grand National, Busch East Series. Bonus coverage of two combined races, featuring drivers from both series, will be featured in May.

* Popular driver from Mexico to return to West Series -- Jose Luis Ramirez of Mexico City plans to return full-time to the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series this season as the driver of the No. 30 Pro30.com/Bad Boy Power Drink/ Red Line Oil/Rayere Dodge. Ramirez, who finished 10th in the championship standings as a rookie in the West Series in 2004, will be driving for car owner Pam Lippard, with Phil Bonifield serving as crew chief. Ramirez also raced in the first four West Series races in 2005, as well as competing in the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race in Mexico that year.

* Third BMR driver named -- Eric Richardson has been named to drive the No. 20 GreenFrogRoasting.com Chevrolet for Bill McAnally Racing in the first five races this season. Richardson of Bakersfield, Calif., won the rookie title in the late model class at his hometown track of Mesa Marin Raceway in 2002. He went on to win the championship in that class in the final year of operation before the high-banked half-mile track closed at the end of the 2005 season.

* Holmes to play ball -- The 2006 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series champion Eric Holmes (No. 62 Sunoco Race Fuels Chevrolet) will represent NASCAR as Phoenix International Raceway Day takes place on Friday, March 23, at Tucson Electric Park, where the Arizona Diamondbacks are set to host the Kansas City Royals. Holmes will be the game's Honorary Starter, taking the mound to throw out the first pitch. He will also take batting practice and will meet with fans to sign autographs. The PIR showcar and the PIR racing simulator will both be on exhibit outside of Tucson Electric Park.

FAST FACTS

What: ALLSTATE TEXAS THUNDER 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Race #1

Where: Thunder Hill Raceway, Kyle, Texas.

When: 8:30 p.m., Saturday, March 31.

Track layout: .375-mile paved oval.
Distance: 150 Laps, 56.25 miles.

TV: HDNet
SPEED (enhanced replay)

2006 winner: Eric Holmes.

2006 polesitter: Mike David.

Records: Qualifying: Mike David, Sept. 30, 2006, 89.994 mph, 15.001 sec.; Race: To be established at 150-lap distance.

Pre-race schedule: Saturday -- Practice, 11:10 a.m.-Noon, 12:40-1:25 p.m. Qualifying, 5:15 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Terry Labonte , Mike David , Eric Holmes