LAS VEGAS (March 2, 2011) – – Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway Bobby Labonte and his JTG Daugherty Racing team did exactly what they needed to do with a significantly damaged car and that was finish the race.
“We were collected in a big accident and we were fortunate to finish the race at Phoenix,” said Labonte. “The race team did a really good job. We were competitive before the accident and even after that, which keeps us motivated heading into Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.”
The 21st-place effort was good enough to keep the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion in the top-10 (seventh) championship points standings entering Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the No. 47 Toyota Camry this weekend sponsored by Kingsford Charcoal.
“This is a big week for Kingsford,” said Labonte, who is 16 points out of first and only one point out of fifth. “Daylight Saving Time is a little over a week away and we want to remind everyone in America that it is time to ‘Fire Up Their Grills.’ There is no better way to do that than to run up front and bring home a strong finish for Kingsford and all of our sponsor partners.”
Labonte has two pole awards, four top-five and five top-10 finishes in 13 starts at the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval. The 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner is looking to get back to victory lane. Labonte’s last trip was at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2003 with Joe Gibbs Racing and he’s hungry to return.
“We have as good of a shot as anybody right now with what we have,” said Labonte, whose best finish at LVMS is fourth (2003) with Joe Gibbs Racing. “And, I love Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I have two poles there and some good finishes. Even though I have not raced the car we are taking, I’m confident in my mind about this race. With the testing and the way we ran the last two races, it gives me confidence and that level will continue to grow for us as we get more acclimated to each other as a team.”
Labonte and his team are pleased with the way things are shaping up this season.
“We’re good in the standings right now and I know it’s only two races in, but it’s easier when you get off to a good start instead of digging yourself out of a hole,” Labonte said. “Daytona was a shot in the arm to come out of the box like we did and leave with a top-five (fourth) finish. We were going to be okay at Phoenix until the big accident. On a good note, the guys were able to quickly make repairs and we were able to finish the race.
“We made a decision as a team that if we have a bad race, we will not let it affect us,” Labonte continued. “Our desire and integrity are positive factors. Our attitude is to make sure we do the best we can and leave no stone unturned. With hard work and dedication, we will hit the high spots.”
Big picture for JTG Daugherty Racing is like any other team and that is to be in the Chase for the Championship.
“You look at the guys that were in the Chase for the Championship last year and they were consistent weekly,” crew chief Frank Kerr said. “They didn’t crash or have mechanical problems. They were just there every week. So, as a team, we need to bring the car home every week.”
“He’s right and the stars have to align for us,” Labonte added. “We will be competitive week in and week out in my mind. We’ve just got to continue to be confident. We will get better as we go and that will count towards the end of the year. “
Co-owner Brad Daugherty knows they have the right person in place to get the job done.
“We are building our program to be consistently competitive and with that we felt we needed veteran leadership behind the wheel and Bobby Labonte provides that leadership to take us to the next level,” Daugherty said.
Live coverage of the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on FOX begins at 3 p.m. ET. PRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite will also cover the event.