The 1998 Diehard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was a memorable race for Bobby Labonte. With two laps to go he passed his brother Terry coming out of Turn 2 going down the backstretch and held off a hard-charging Jimmy Spencer to win from the pole.
“Man I won; over a mile-and-a-half racetrack,” Labonte said when he climbed out of his car that day. “I feel like I’ve been restricted.”
Now, Labonte returns with JTG Daugherty Racing in the No. 47 BUSH’S® Beans Toyota Camry seeking another Talladega victory this time during the Aaron’s 499. In 38 starts, he has one win, one pole award, six top-five, 13 top-10 finishes and has led 154 laps at the 2.66 tri-oval banked 33 degrees on each end with the backstretch nearly 4,000 feet long. At restrictor plate races in general, the Corpus Christi, Texas-native has recorded, one win, 12 top-five, 22 top-10 finishes and led 24 times for 224 laps.
“Talladega is a toss-up, roll of the dice where anything could happen,” the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner said. “Sometimes it’s not in your control of what could happen. You just hope you’re not a part of anything like that and you are first at the end.”
The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion’s best finish this season occurred in the season-opener at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway tri-oval where he crossed the finish line in 14th-place. Labonte is determined this weekend he will change that statistic.
“We’re hoping to avoid the mayhem and come away unscathed with a strong finish,” said Labonte, who finished 17th in the most recent event at Richmond International Raceway. “We’ve got a new car ready and we’re pretty excited about this weekend in general.”
Before flag-to-flag competition at Talladega in front of 140,000 plus fans, Labonte is finding ways to continue to give back to the community. Today, Labonte is donating his time again to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) by participating in a golf outing put on by CertainTeed® at Rock Barn Golf & Spa in Conover. CertainTeed has been big fundraisers for JDRF and this year if they reach their goal, they will have raised over $200,000 for the foundation.
Friday night following Labonte’s SPEED NASCAR Trackside interview, he is also donating his time to the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB) during their annual Race Fever on property at Talladega Superspeedway. He will be participating in a question and answer session for NASCAR fans. There will also be a live and silent auction benefiting the students and families statewide served by the AIDB.
“I enjoy doing as much as I can to give back to the community,” Labonte said. “I’m looking forward to helping JDRF and AIDB this week before racing on Sunday at Talladega.”