Bobby Labonte

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bobby Labonte
BobbyLabonte2006.jpg
Labonte in 2006
Born (1964-05-08) May 8, 1964 (age 50)
Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
Achievements 2000 Winston Cup Series Champion
1991 Busch Series Champion
2001 IROC Champion
1995 Coca-Cola 600 Winner
2000 Brickyard 400 Winner
2000 Southern 500 Winner
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
721 races run over 23 years
Car no., team No. 37 (Tommy Baldwin Racing)
2013 position 34th
Best finish 1st (2000)
First race 1991 Budweiser 500 (Dover)
Last race 2014 Brickyard 400 (Indianapolis)
First win 1995 Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte)
Last win 2003 Ford 400 (Homestead)
Wins Top tens Poles
21 203 26
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
202 races run over 18 years
Best finish 1st (1991)
First race 1982 Autumn 150 (Martinsville)
Last race 2008 O'Reilly 300 (Texas)
First win 1991 Budweiser 250 (Bristol)
Last win 2007 Aaron's 312 (Talladega)
Wins Top tens Poles
10 100 10
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
10 races run over 5 years
Best finish 36th (2005)
First race 1996 GM Goodwrench/AC Delco 300 (Phoenix)
Last race 2007 Michigan 200 (Michigan)
First win 2005 Kroger 250 (Martinsville)
Wins Top tens Poles
1 5 0
Statistics current as of July 27, 2014.

Robert Alan "Bobby" Labonte (born May 8, 1964) is an American stock car racing driver. The 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, he competes part-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, driving the No. 37 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet.

He and his older brother, Terry Labonte, are the only brothers to have both won Sprint Cup championships. He is also the uncle of former Nationwide Series race winner Justin Labonte. Labonte is the first driver to have won both the Winston Cup championship (2000) and the Busch Series championship (1991). He also won the IROC title in 2001.

Racing career[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Labonte was born on May 8, 1964 in Corpus Christi, Texas. He began racing in 1969 in quarter midgets in his homestate of Texas, winning his first feature race one year later. From then until 1977, he drove in quarter-midgets throughout the United States, winning many races. In 1978, he advanced to the go-kart ranks, but moved to North Carolina with his family following older brother Terry's advancement to the Winston Cup Series. After competing in several different divisions, Bobby made his Busch Series debut in 1982 at Martinsville Speedway, finishing 30th. Following his graduation from Trinity High School, he worked as a fabricator on Terry's cars at Hagan Racing. After a few years of racing in various divisions, Labonte returned to the Busch Series in 1985, running two races in a car he owned himself at Martinsville. In his first race, he finished 30th, bringing home only $220. In his next race, though, he finished in 17th, his best finish so far. The next season, running his own Bobby Labonte Racing car, he won his first Busch pole position and finished second at Road Atlanta.

While he continued to run races in the Busch Series, Labonte's main success came driving late-model stock cars. In 1987, Labonte won twelve races at Caraway Speedway, clinching the track championship, in addition to working for Jay Hedgecock. The following season, he competed at Concord Motorsports Park, winning six times, and ran six more Busch races, finishing 16th at Darlington Raceway. The next season, he ran seven races and had his first top-five finish at North Carolina Speedway. He had two more top-tens that year.

1990–1994[edit]

By 1990, Labonte had finally earned enough money to race in the Busch Series full-time. He founded his own team, and drove a Slim Jim-sponsored #44 Oldsmobile. He was successful, winning two poles (both at Bristol Motor Speedway), scoring six top-5s, and ten top-10s. He ended up finishing fourth in the standings and was also voted the Busch Series' "Most Popular Driver".

Next season, he continued his second-division success by winning the NASCAR Busch Series championship with two wins, 10 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. He also won his first Busch Series race, at Bristol, then won again at O'Reilly Raceway Park in August. In addition to his Busch Series schedule, he made two Winston Cup starts in a Bobby Labonte Racing car at Dover International Speedway and Michigan International Speedway, finishing 34th and 38th, respectively.

The following season, 1992, he continued racing in the Busch Series. His season was a successful one, and he ended up winning three races (at Lanier, Hickory, and Martinsville respectively), but lost the Busch championship to Joe Nemechek by three points. That championship finish is, to date, the second closest finish in the history of NASCAR's top three series (behind the tiebreaker between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards in the Sprint Cup Series in 2011).

In 1993, Labonte was called up by Bill Davis Racing to drive in the Winston Cup Series. He signed a contract to drive the #22 Maxwell House Ford Thunderbird. In his rookie season, he won his first pole at Richmond International Raceway, collected one top-five and two top-tens, and finished 19th in points. He was also second place behind Jeff Gordon for Rookie of the Year honors. He also competed in two Busch Series races, winning a pole and finishing 2nd and 24th respectively. Also, Labonte continued to operate his main Busch Series team, hiring David Green to drive for him. Green finished third in points for Bobby Labonte Racing.

The next season, 1994, Labonte achieved his second major success as a car owner when his Busch Series driver, David Green, won the championship. It was the second championship, and fifth top-five points finish in five years for Bobby Labonte Racing. He also ran in the Busch Series himself, making 12 starts and earning a victory at Michigan in August. In addition to his Busch Series exploits, Bobby continued running full-time in the Winston Cup series for Bill Davis Racing. He collected one top-5 and two top-10s and finished 21st in the standings, just missing out on the top 20 because of Todd Bodine's two-position points standings gain in the final race of the season.

Sprint Cup Series[edit]

1995–2000[edit]

Bobby Labonte's former JGR car on display at the Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters.

At the end of the 1994 season, Labonte departed to replace Dale Jarrett as the driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. Bobby would pick up his first career win at the Coca Cola 600 in 1995. He would also go on and sweep the races at Michigan, and finish 10th in the standings.

In 1996, Bobby won the season-ending race at Atlanta, the same race where his brother Terry won the championship. The two took a victory lap together in what Bobby said was one of the most emotional and memorable moments of his life. That year, he finished 11th in points.

In 1997, Gibbs switched car makes to a Pontiac Grand Prix. Labonte would go on to win the season ending race at Atlanta for the second year in a row. He ended up in 7th place in the standings, his best finish at that point in his career.

Bobby Labonte.
Bobby Labonte.

In 1998, Labonte won at Atlanta and Talladega, as well as pole positions at both Daytona races, finishing second to Dale Earnhardt in the 500. He finished the year in 6th in final points, improving by a position.

In 1999, Labonte won five Winston Cup races, the most he has ever won in a single season. He won at Dover in the spring, swept both Pocono races (he was the third to accomplish this particular sweep, after Bobby Allison in 1982 and Tim Richmond in 1986; since 1999, Jimmie Johnson in 2004, Denny Hamlin in 2006, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014 have also done this), the second Michigan race and the season finale at Atlanta. However, during the season, he suffered a broken shoulder in an accident while qualifying for a Busch Series race at Darlington Raceway, but raced in the Cup event two days later. Labonte started the race, but at the first caution was relieved by Matt Kenseth. He finished second in the points to Dale Jarrett, losing the championship by 201 points.

In 2000, Labonte won 4 races - the second race of the season at Rockingham, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, the Southern 500 at Darlington and the fall race at Charlotte. He led the point standings for 25 weeks straight after taking over at California, and never relinquished it on the way to winning the Winston Cup championship, finishing ahead of Dale Earnhardt by 265 points, with four wins, 19 top fives and 24 top tens.

2001–2005[edit]

Labonte #43 races to the end of pit lane in 2006
Labonte's 2007 car

In 2001, Labonte began the year with a 7th place finish in the Bud Shootout. At the Daytona 500, he and teammate Tony Stewart were two of eighteen cars wrecked in a crash on lap 173. Labonte's hood broke off and got attached to Stewart's flipping car. After getting out of his car, Labonte was seen checking on Stewart to make sure he was okay. The accident was overshadowed by Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash on the last lap of the same race.

The following week, at Rockingham, Labonte was narrowly beaten to the finish line by Steve Park in a rain-delayed Dura Lube 400. He did not have another top-ten finish until the Virginia 500 at Martinsville, where he finished in eighth, followed by a fifth place finish in the Talladega 500. His next top-ten was a fifth place finish at the Coca-Cola 600. After less successful finishes at Dover and Michigan, Labonte had an 8th place finish at Pocono and 7th place finish at Sonoma, and a 5th place finish at the Pepsi 400. At the end of July, Labonte won his first points-race of the year in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono.

After the win, Labonte's next top ten was a ninth-place run at Watkins Glen, then 8th and 3rd place runs at Bristol and Darlington, and 6th place at Richmond. He did not have back-to-back top-10s again until the fall races at Charlotte and Martinsville, finishing 10th and 4th respectively.

At Talladega in the fall, Labonte started 34th. He managed to work his way up the field and took the lead on lap 107. He led for 23 laps before falling back in the pack. He retook the lead on lap 184, but then was involved in a frightening last lap crash. After leading three laps, Labonte was leading at the white flag on the outside lane. Going into turn 1, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. overtook Labonte in the lower groove, bringing Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton with him. Labonte moved up the track, trying to block Bobby Hamilton, but coming onto the back straightaway, Hamilton tapped him from behind. Labonte made contact with Johnny Benson, Jr. - sending Benson into the outside wall - and then spun, flipping over and skidding partway down the track on his roof. The wreck also collected Jason Leffler, Sterling Marlin, Robby Gordon, Mike Wallace, Ricky Craven, Terry Labonte, Buckshot Jones, Ricky Rudd, Ward Burton, and more.

Labonte's next top-ten was a ninth place finish at Rockingham. After winning at Atlanta and a third place finish at a postponed New Hampshire 300, he finished sixth in the final points standings.

In 2002, Labonte only had 1 win, which was at Martinsville in the spring. He also drove a 9/11 Tribute car in 2002 with the phrase "Let's Roll" on the hood of this stock car. It was his first career short track win at Martinsville. He went on to finish 16th in the final points, and failed to finish in the top 10 for the first time since 1996, while teammate Stewart went on to win the championship.

In 2003, Labonte rebounded and finished 8th in the standings after winning 2 races (Atlanta and Homestead [leading only the final lap]). Also, Labonte went on a tear during the spring with 3 straight 2nd-place finishes.

In 2004, Labonte did not win a race for the first time since 1994, and finished 12th in the standings.

2005 saw much of the same. Labonte fell out of the top 20 in points, and only had 4 top-5s, one of which was a dramatic 2nd at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600. He also went on to race some Truck Series events, which included a win at Martinsville. His win there made him join an elite group of drivers that have won in all 3 divisions at one track. In fact, with his win, he became the first driver to do so.

He also ran the 24 Hours of Daytona road race, sharing a car with his brother Terry, Jan Magnussen and Bryan Herta. After the disappointing 2005 season, Labonte asked and was granted to be released from Joe Gibbs Racing, having spent the last eleven seasons there. Labonte joined Petty Enterprises to drive the famous #43.

2006–2008[edit]

Bobby Labonte brings his car in after a crash during the 2007 Ford 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In his inaugural season in the #43, Labonte collected 3 top-5's and 8 top-10s. His top-5s included an impressive run at the Martinsville Speedway where he finished 3rd after being in contention for the win much of the day. He ended up finishing 21st in the points standings, three spots better than in 2005.

Labonte's 2008 Cup racecar

Bobby began the 2007 season with a 21st place finish in the Daytona 500, after avoiding the many accidents the race had. Bobby won the Busch Series race at Talladega Speedway in April 2007, edging Tony Stewart to the line in a thrilling finish. This was his first Busch Series win since 1998. Bobby would end the year with no top-fives and only three top-ten finishes, but due to a more consistent season, he finished in 18th place in the standings, a three-position improvement over 2006.

In the off season following the 2007 season, Labonte agreed to a 15 race contract to drive the # 21 chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for 2008. RCR's No. 21 team earned six victories in 2007 with driver Kevin Harvick, and has earned two of the organization's four series championships. In November 2007, Labonte formed a full-service marketing agency, Breaking Limits, which is based in Huntersville, North Carolina.

In 2008, Labonte continued his contract with Petty Enterprises, but experienced a largely unsuccessful season, gathering only three top-tens and no top-fives on his way to finishing 21st in the Sprint Cup standings. In December of that year, Labonte was released from Petty Enterprises while the team was negotiating with Gillett Evernham Motorsports about a possible merger.

2009[edit]

On January 13, 2009, Labonte was confirmed to be the driver of the #96 Ford Fusion for Hall of Fame Racing, now in a partnership with Yates Racing. Ask.com sponsored the car for most races in 2009, In the 2009 Spring Las Vegas race, the Shelby 427, Labonte recorded his first top 5 with Hall of Fame racing, and his best finish since he finished third in the Fall Martinsville race in 2006. However that was his only Top 5 run for the year. With eleven races remaining in the 2009 season, Labonte was replaced for Erik Darnell for 7 of the final eleven races due to sponsorship problems with the #96. Labonte found a ride with TRG (The Racers Group) Motorsports and its 71 for the 7 races he was out of the 96. His first race at Atlanta, Labonte ran inside the Top 20 all night and scored an 18th place finish. Two races later Labonte gave TRG its best qualifying effort with an 8th place start, Labonte came home 22nd. At Talladega Labonte finished 10th place, and at one point was running second in that race to Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

2010[edit]

From February 2010 – June 2010, Labonte drove for TRG Motorsports and its #71. TaxSlayer was the primary sponsor for 14 of the first 16 races.[1] Even though TRG's 2009 owner points were not enough to make the field guaranteed for the first 5 races of 2010, Labonte's past championship provisional gave the team that to fall back on, in the case that Labonte's qualifying runs are not fast. For 2010, Labonte was also reunited with Doug Randolph as his crew chief. Randolph finished the 2007 season with Labonte in the #43 for Petty Enterprises, posting 2 of 3 of Labonte's top-10 runs. TRG also announced an alliance with Richard Childress Racing for 2010.[2] RCR shared technology and equipment with TRG for the season. They also formed an alliance with Stewart Haas Racing, as Tony Stewart will provide a pit crew to the team.

In his first race in the TRG, Labonte finished 21st in the Daytona 500 after he started 42nd with a champions provisional. For much of the race Labonte was a Top 25 car. Labonte would end up fading back over the next few races, as he and the team would struggle for consistency. On the May 16th Dover race, due to lack of sponsorship, Labonte and the 71 team parked the car after 66 laps. Arguably, some people might say that this season is the worst of his full-time career, as he only had two top 20's finishes in 2010 one at the Daytona 500 and one at the Infineon Raceway road course event.

On June 22, 2010 it was announced that Labonte would be leaving the #71 due to team being unable to secure sponsorship. On June 23, Labonte was hired to drive car #7 for Robby Gordon Motorsports at New Hampshire in a one race deal. [3] Phoenix Racing hired Labonte to take over the #09 car beginning at Daytona and Labonte split the rest of the 2010 season between Phoenix Racing and TRG Motorsports. On October 11 Stavola-Labonte Racing hired Labonte to drive its #10 car at Charlotte and Texas in a two race deal. The team is co-owned by Bobby's older brother Terry. Despite bouncing around, Labonte competed in every race for the 2010 season.

2011–2012[edit]

Labonte replaced Marcos Ambrose as the full-time driver of the #47 JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota Camry, with support from Michael Waltrip Racing. The 47 car was sponsored in 2010 by various brands owned by Little Debbie, Clorox, and Kimberly-Clark, all sponsors returned. He finished 4th in the Daytona 500, earning Labonte his 200th career top 10 finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Earning only one more top 10 finish so far in the season. JTG Daugherty Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing received a penalty for violating section 12-1, 12-4-J, and 20-3.2.1A. Crew Chief Frankie Kerr was fined $50,000 and was suspended from 4 NASCAR Sprint cup Championship events, and suspended from NASCAR until November, 23. The same penalty was for Michael Waltrip Racing and the car chief for each team. The owners of the numbers 47(Tad Geschickter); 56(Michael Waltrip); and 00(Rob Kauffman); were penalized 25 owner points. The drivers were also penalized 25 driver points.

For the 2012 season, Labonte will return to the 47 car with most of the sponsors returning also. JTG Daugherty Racing also announced they will no longer operate out of the Michael Waltrip Racing shop. Todd Barrier will take over the role as the crew chief. The current crew chief, Frankie Kerr, will move to the position of shop foreman.

2013–present[edit]

Labonte ran in the 47 for the entire season until the 2013 Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway, in which he ran the No. 51 for Phoenix Racing. Labonte ran at Sonoma Raceway in the 47, but was subsequently replaced by A. J. Allmendinger in the 47 for selected races starting at the 2013 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, ending Labonte's streak of consecutive starts at 704. The streak was second only to Jeff Gordon's.[4] Later in the year Labonte suffered broken ribs in a cycling accident, forcing him to miss three races, starting with the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta.[5]

His last race with JTG Daughtery was at Phoenix International Raceway in November 2013; released afterwards, in December 2013 he announced that he would be running part-time in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in a second car for HScott Motorsports.[6] During practice for the 2014 Daytona 500 Labonte blew an engine, and although he qualified for his 22nd consecutive 500,[7] he was relegated to the back of the starting grid.[8] Labonte finished the race in 15th.[9]

A deal to run for James Finch in additional races fell through, thus Labonte did not make another start for the first half of the season. Instead he tested cars for Richard Childress Racing. At the summer Daytona race, he drove the #33 RCR Chevrolet that Brian Scott had driven to the pole at Talladega, running under the Circle Sport banner. Labonte qualified 4th and contended for the lead at the beginning of the race, but was caught up in the Big One, finishing 26th. Tommy Baldwin Racing would field the No. 37 car with Accell Construction as the sponsor for Labonte at Indianapolis.

In December 2014 Labonte announced that he is going to drive for Go FAS Racing on the plate tracks taking over from his brother Terry who retired after the 2014 GEICO 500.

NASCAR on NBC[edit]

In February 2014 it was announced that Labonte will appear as a reporter for the new program NASCAR America on NBCSN. He made his TV debut early in the 2014 season.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Labonte currently resides in Trinity, North Carolina. He is married to his wife Donna and they have two children: Robert Tyler and Madison.

Motorsports career results[edit]

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold - Pole position awarded by time. Italics - Pole position earned by points standings. * – Most laps led.)

Sprint Cup Series[edit]

* Season in progress
1 Ineligible for series points

24 Hours of Daytona[edit]

(key)

References[edit]

  1. ^ TRG Motorsports announces Bobby Labonte in No. 71 full-time in 2010
  2. ^ TRG Motorsports forms alliance with RCR
  3. ^ Labonte also drove the #09 car for Phoenix Racing at Daytona and Chicago. Labonte Leaving TRG
  4. ^ Caraviello, David (2013-06-25). "Labonte's consecutive start streak to end". NASCAR. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  5. ^ Gluck, Jeff (August 28, 2013). "Bobby Labonte breaks ribs in bike crash, will miss race". USA Today. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  6. ^ Gluck, Jeff (December 17, 2013). "2014 Daytona 500: Bobby Labonte to drive for Phoenix Racing". USA Today. McLean, VA. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  7. ^ Bianchi, Jordan (February 21, 2014). "2014 Daytona 500: Mixed emotions as some drivers make Daytona 500, others don’t". SB Nation. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  8. ^ Gluck, Jeff (February 22, 2014). "2014 Daytona 500 lineup: Nine cars will start at rear". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  9. ^ "2014 Daytona 500". Racing-Reference. Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  10. ^ Bob Pockrass, Sporting News, NBC Launching Daily NASCAR Show, February 11, 2014

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dale Jarrett
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Champion
2000
Succeeded by
Jeff Gordon
Preceded by
Chuck Bown
NASCAR Busch Series Champion
1991
Succeeded by
Joe Nemechek
Preceded by
Dale Earnhardt
IROC Champion
IROC XXV (2001)
Succeeded by
Kevin Harvick