Wednesday, Feb 01

Bobby Labonte, JTG Daugherty Racing, Coca Cola 600 preview

COCA-COLA 600 NOTES & QUOTES:

Bobby Labonte's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win occurred during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 1995. His second win at Charlotte, took place on October 8, 2000. He has six runner-up finishes.

In 40 starts at the 1.5-mile home track, he has two victories, three poles, 12 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes and has led 807 laps. His average start is 15.675 and his average finish is 15.500.

 

Labonte reflects on his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at Charlotte: "It was the 1995 Coca-Cola 600," Labonte said. "I started second, was running well and leading on several occasions. I even roughed up Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. on the frontstretch one time, which made him mad. We got down towards the end of the race and Kenny Schrader was leading. I thought I could catch him, but not sure about passing him. Then his engine blew up and I thought, 'Now what am I going to do?' I'm leading going for my first win. I ended up winning the race over six seconds in front of my brother (Terry), who finished second. It was the first race I won and my brother Terry finished second. Pretty cool."

The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion also remembers his first Coca-Cola 600: "I can remember my first Coca-Cola 600 race and leading at mile 400, it was a wild moment to be in a big event like that and lead with 200 miles to go and finish seventh," Labonte said.

There's nothing like being at home for the 21-time winner: "One of the greatest things about racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway is that you are able to have some time at home for a couple weeks and sleep in your own bed," Labonte said. "I've always enjoyed racing there and for us drivers it's a prestigious race. You want to win in your backyard in front of a hometown crowd."

It's all about beans: "We're happy to have BUSH'S® Grillin' Beans® on the hood of our No. 47 Toyota Camry at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600," driver Bobby Labonte said. "Since the Coca-Cola 600 was the first race I won in my career, that race and track has special meaning to me. Also, it's followed by a special holiday, Memorial Day. It's the time of year when people come together for different things and it's a big day of grilling with family and friends. We look forward to grilling out ourselves on Monday and getting together with the family. There's always a grill lit up at my house."

Moving in the right direction: "The Sprint Showdown was like a test session for us because we tried some different things, but decided to go back to the way we were in the fall race because we were more competitive," crew chief Brian Burns. "That setup points us in the right direction that will make us better. Basically, we are going back to what we thought was right in the first place."

Show and tell: "Finishing strong at Charlotte Motor Speedway is more of a pride thing, kind of like, show and tell in elementary school," Burns said. "There's more pride around this race because your friends and family are here and you always put in extra effort. At the same time, being at home, you are able to catch your breath and relax a little from being on the road. It's good to be home."

Gaining strength: "Every week we get stronger," Burns said. "We understand our strengths and weaknesses and I think that helps make us a cohesive unit. We expect a good qualifying effort on Thursday. Usually, we expect top-20 finishes, but this Sunday we expect a top-15 finish. We had one of our best race car setups at Charlotte last year, but everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. We want to go back and redeem ourselves. Also, we are looking at some tests coming up to help improve our intermediate track program. Good things are ahead for us."
 
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