Bobby Labonte is competing sort of in his sponsor’s backyard during the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday, June 24th as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series arrives in Sonoma Valley for the 24th consecutive year.
“Road course racing at Sonoma is fun,” Labonte said. “It’s one of the most exciting races we go on the circuit. I like the road courses a lot and feel like we should have a couple more on our 36-race schedule. Why not?”
Labonte and the JTG Daugherty Racing team will proudly display the The Clorox Company’s Clorox logo on the hood of the No. 47 Toyota Camry for the 110-lap event. The Clorox Company is based in Oakland, Calif., which is a mere hour away from the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. Clorox, which is a global company with leading brands that have become household names, has a longstanding relationship with JTG Daugherty Racing through the NASCAR platform that spans over a decade.
“The Clorox Company has stood behind our company through thick and thin,” co-owner Tad Geschickter said. “It means a lot to have sponsors who are true business partners. We are both vested in seeing each other succeed.”
There will be 44 drivers attempting to qualify for race number 16 looking to break Jeff Gordon’s track record (June 24, 2005, 94.325 mph/1:15.950). This marks the first of two road-course events on the circuit. Labonte has two top-five and five top-10 finishes to his credit in 19 starts at Sonoma with his best finish of fourth occurring twice (6/25/00 and 6/28/98). The JTG Daugherty Racing team’s best finish is third, which happened in 2009 with Australian driver Marcos Ambrose.
“The team has had some success at road courses,” Labonte said. “This will be a good track for us.”
There have been 96 lead changes combined over the last 10 years of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition on the Sonoma road course. Last year, Kurt Busch hoisted the trophy besting Jeff Gordon, who is the one to beat owning five victories and five pole positions. Labonte has 21-career victories and a 2000 championship on his résumé, but for some reason he is missing a road course victory. He’s ready to change that this weekend.
“I don’t have a win at Sonoma,” Labonte said. “I guess I’ve been fair to midland there. I have some top-five finishes and consistently had top 10 running cars. It always seemed like with a few laps to go something would always happen to take me out of contention. We’re hoping to secure a solid top 15 finish out there with our No. 47 Clorox Toyota Camry on Sunday in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.”