FORT WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2011) – – Bobby Labonte arrives with JTG Daugherty Racing in the Lone Star State for a shot at hoisting the unique hand-carved boot trophy in the Samsung Mobile 500 with his No. 47 Bush’s Beans Toyota at Texas Motor Speedway.
His first attempt at the 1.5-mile quad-oval with Joe Gibbs Racing proved to be successful as he led and finished third in 1997.
Since then, he has recorded two pole awards and finished third two more times. The Corpus Christi, Texas-native has three top-five and five top-10 finishes at the Texan oval.
“Texas Motor Speedway is going to be a good track for us and it will be fun racing at night – – we’ve got Bush’s Beans on board,” Labonte said. “I really like that place and every track has its own unique characteristic. I was fortunate to go there before they ever built the track. I literally saw it being built from the ground up. It is a great facility and right now it is as good as it has ever been. Texas is coming into its own with a lot of racing grooves.”
With six races completed, things are falling into place for Labonte and JTG Daugherty Racing.
“We’ve had really good race cars except for one race and that was Fontana (Auto Club Speedway),” said Labonte, who has one top-five and one top-10 with the team. “We’ve had a little bit of bad luck to go along with the good luck we’ve had. But, we’re getting that consistency where we unload better weekly. We’ve got to find that last little bit to start gaining confidence and momentum as soon as we unload. Momentum is a big thing in this sport. You can’t buy it at a grocery store or a parts store. We’ve been more competitive than not and that’s really encouraging for us.”
Labonte is currently 21st in the championship standings entering Texas, but he is only 43 points out of tenth place.
“A couple of bad finishes the past couple of weekends where we should have had better finishes has put us back to 21st in points probably instead of 15th or so,” Labonte said. “We’ll just have to make it up as the weeks go on. I think you are always conscious of points, but you still race to win. Also, you post the best finishes you can every week. The points take care of themselves.”
As the weeks go on, Labonte is optimistic about upcoming tracks on the 36-race schedule.
“Of course, Texas is a great track for me, but Richmond International Raceway will be one of our better tracks because we’ve been so good on the short tracks this year,” Labonte said. “Talladega Superspeedway is a crap shoot. You never know about that one. You hope to have a great race car, but you’ve got to be lucky at the same time. I love both Darlington Raceway and Dover International Speedway. I feel like we’ve got great race cars. We’ve finished every race, but the one where we blew out a tire at Fontana with about 20 laps to go or less. We just need better luck.”
Prior to Texas, Labonte finished 27th at Martinsville Speedway due to an accident not of his own accord. Labonte was running in the top 15 before his efforts were disrupted and taken out of contention.
“Martinsville is over and we are looking forward to this weekend,” Labonte said. “Our engineer, Brian Burns, recently said, ‘Well, we finished 27th, which really wasn’t bad considering we had a wrecked race car. I’d rather finished 27th with a wrecked race car than run bad and finish 23rd.’
“We ran good all weekend long and had a good qualifying run at Martinsville,” Labonte continued. “We were competitive. We just got collected in a wreck almost halfway through the race while we were running in the top 15. It was unfortunate, but we came back, finished and salvaged it.”
Live coverage of the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 9th begins at 7:30 p.m. on FOX. PRN Radio and Sirius XM will also carry the event.