Terry Labonte Finishes Inside of the top-15 in Final Daytona Start

In a career that is coming to a close, Terry Labonte doesn’t have many chances to prove he’s still a great racecar driver. However, Labonte avoided all of the chaos at the Daytona International Speedway on Sunday to finish 11th while racing for Go FAS Racing.

Go FAS Racing is an underfunded team which has used multiple drivers this season. Labonte, 57, has raced for Go FAS Racing since 2011 – primarily at the restrictor plate tracks. Since the team owned by Frank Stoddard, a former crew chief for Roush Fenway Racing and Bill Davis Racing, has an average finish worse than 30th since they opened their doors during the 2011 campaign, having Labonte behind the wheel gives them the confidence that they need.

Although he has never finished inside of the top-10 with the team, it is due to being highly conservative during the plate races. Labonte has seldom been seen racing in the midst of the ‘pack’ during the events he races for the organization because they simply can’t afford to get caught up in the ‘big one.’ Sunday’s result was his seventh top-20 finish for Go FAS Racing in 19 starts. It might not seem like a great result, but for a small team – finishing inside of the top-20 is like a victory.

However, next year, the team will need to find a new driver for the four restrictor plate races.

Why?

Well, after competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for what is now 37 consecutive seasons in some way, shape or form – Labonte is putting an end to his career. Making just four starts this year - Labonte has taken it easy ever since ending his full-time career in 2004. Since then, he has raced on a part-time basis for Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Petty Enterprises and a few smaller organizations for one-off starts.

“I’ve been dragging this retirement out for about seven years. I told him I really mean it this time,” Labonte said at Daytona to MRN.

Now, Labonte is set to make his final start at the Talladega Superspeedway in October. It is going to be an emotional one for the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, but if he can finish his career with a solid finish, the team’s credibility might just grow a drop entering 2015.

Labonte will take the green flag for the 890th and final time at the Talladega Superspeedway. There are only two drivers that have made more starts in NASCAR history – Richard Petty (1185 starts) and Ricky Rudd (906). Labonte has 22 wins, 182 top-fives, 361 top-10s along with 27 poles in his historic career. 

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Joseph Wolkin

Joseph Wolkin (@JosephNASCAR) is a sophomore at the Queensborough Community College as an English major. He’s a native of Whitestone, NY, just outside of New York City, and has been attempting to find roots of motorsports within his area since 2004. He started out as just a fan, but over the course of his high school career, he ended up falling in love with writing.

Joseph has been covering NASCAR since 2011 for several different websites. Recently, he was named as one of two lead NASCAR columnists for Rant Sports after working for the site for over one year. Working with Rant Sports for approximately 14 months, Joseph has covered New York City area sports teams such as the New York Giants, New York Mets, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and more.

Through his passion is for NASCAR, Joseph has adapted to changing times and realizes that he has numerous opportunities in the journalism work. As one of the top young sports writers, his goal is to become one of the top motorsports writers of this new digital media era. However, he also believes that it’s important to stick to the traditional routers of print publications after seeing his high school newspaper dissolve due to a lack of funding.

Currently, besides his duties with Speedway Digest, Joseph is a columnist with Fronstretch.com, Motorsport.com and has a weekly article in NASCAR Pole Position's digital version - ROAR! Weekly Race Preview Magazine.