Twice Bobby Labonte has sniffed victory at Richmond International Raceway (RIR). This Saturday at the .75-mile D-shaped oval during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 the 21-time division winner is primed to break a string of bad luck that has plagued his JTG Daugherty Racing team.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks, but we remain focused,” Labonte said. “We feel like we had a top-15 car at Kansas Speedway before incurring problems, which is promising for our mile-and-a-half program. We’re looking forward to a fresh start this weekend at Richmond and coming away with a solid finish.”
BUSH’S® Beans is one of JTG Daugherty Racing’s longstanding partners and will be the primary sponsor for the 400-lap action-packed night race. The sponsor is pulling for Labonte to top his best finish of the year, which is 14th in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. At short tracks in general, Labonte has one win, 13 top-five, 34 top-10 finishes and has led 24 times for 548 laps.
“I’ve been close to winning at Richmond a couple of times and have led a lot of laps,” Labonte said. “It’s just a fun, neat short track and then you throw in the fact that it is a night race.
“This is a place where you don’t really have to worry about aero and you can pass there,” continued Labonte. “It’s a great race for the fans to watch no matter if they are on their feet in the stands or at home watching on FOX.”
Labonte finished second to three-time champion Tony Stewart in 1999 and then to Joe Nemechek in 2003. In 38 starts at RIR, he has led 161 laps, collected one pole, four top-five and three top-10 finishes.
“Bobby has had some success there and we’re looking forward to going to Richmond with him,” co-owner Tad Geschickter said. “We had another hiccup last week at Kansas Speedway that was out of our control, but like Bobby said we were turning some really good lap times. We need a solid finish this weekend to help build some momentum moving forward.”
This week has been a busy week for Labonte both personally and professionally. First he allotted time for a three-day hunting trip in Georgia before taking off to Richmond, Va. Then on Wednesday, he will be presenting a check on behalf of St. Mark Catholic School in Huntersville, N.C. to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Students at St. Mark Catholic School in Huntersville have earned the honor of Top Fundraising School in the United States for JDRF’s Kids Walk Program. The school sponsored a JDRF Kids Walk fundraising campaign to educate students about type 1 diabetes and to raise vital funds to improve the lives of those living with type 1 diabetes. Fundraising efforts included a spirit week, “penny wars” classroom competition, raffles and pledge solicitation. The campaign culminated in a day-long event on March 9 where students participated in kick-ball, limbo, line dances, dodge ball and walking several laps around the school’s outdoor track. Surpassing all expectations, St. Mark Catholic School raised an incredible $61,000 through these efforts. The amount is not only the most raised by any school in the country this year; it is the most ever raised by a school in the history of the JDRF Kids Walk Program. During penny wars, a classroom competition to collect loose change, a total of $3,397.33 was raised. $628.23 was in pennies alone (62,823 pennies).
“It is amazing what St. Mark Catholic School was able to accomplish,” said Labonte, whose golf tournament on May 16th at TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte benefits JDRF. “They earned the honor of Top Fundraising School in the United States for the JDRF’s Kids Walk Program and we congratulate them on their incredible efforts. I’m looking forward to being a part of their big day and check presentation.”