CONCORD, N.C. (May 24, 2011) – – Some memories for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver are unforgettable, such as, their first career victory. For Bobby Labonte, his first trip to victory lane was during the Coca-Cola 600 on May 28, 1995 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He’s looking to return with his No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Toyota Camry this Memorial Day weekend.
“The Coca-Cola 600 was my very first win and my brother (Terry) finished second – – it was a great time for both of us,” said Labonte, who also has 115 top-five and 200 top-10 finishes and 26 pole awards in addition to his 21 victories. “I had been second a few times before and we had won some poles and came close to winning. A first win is something you cannot go back and repeat. You’ll never forget that. It was a very special time in my life.”
Over the years, Labonte amassed a grand total of 21 wins and he remembers his first one like it was yesterday.
“It was an exciting day and like I said before, we had some close calls to wins before that race,” Labonte said. “We came into the event with high expectations and a lot of great confidence in our race team. We had completed about 560 miles or so and we were running up front. We eventually took the lead from someone that had a problem. At that point, I couldn’t believe we might win the thing. It was one of the biggest races of the year and to win the Coca-Cola 600 was awesome.”
Labonte’s sponsor for the longest race of the year is Kingsford, which is providing all the charcoal for the Quarter-Mile Cookout during the Coca-Cola Family Track Walk on Friday, May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kingsford is a longstanding partner of JTG Daugherty Racing.
“I’m in the Coca-Cola Racing Family and Kingsford is a big supporter of JTG Daugherty Racing and it’s great to see two of my favorite brands come together for grilling season for the Quarter-Mile Cookout at Charlotte,” Labonte said. “Once the race is over on Sunday, my family and I will be grilling out ourselves on Memorial Day at the house. It’s such a special day. It gives each of us time to reflect, remember and pay tribute to our troops.”
In addition to Kingsford’s primary presence at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there will be a Barium Springs Home for Children logo displayed on the rocker panel. Labonte, JTG Daugherty Racing and K&N Pro Series East driver Coleman Pressley are helping bring special recognition to Barium Springs Home for Children as they make a visit to the Statesville, N.C. location on Thursday, June 9th.
“Our staff and children are extremely excited about our upcoming visit from JTG Daugherty Racing,” says John Koppelmeyer, president and CEO of Barium Springs Home for Children. “The race team plans to share many positive messages with our children about teamwork, a positive attitude and the importance of hard work. We are very grateful that the team would take time out of their busy race schedules to visit with our children and staff. And, we believe it will make a large impact on these kids’ lives.”
Founded in 1891, Barium Springs Home for Children is committed to a safe and nurturing family life for every child in North Carolina. Barium Springs provides early childhood development for low income families, and a safe place to live for abused or neglected children through group homes, foster care and adoption. The agency also offers therapeutic education as well as intervention services for children still living in the community. Headquartered near Statesville, Barium Springs currently employs almost 300 professionals—serving almost 2,000 NC children and families last year.
“We’re looking forward to spending the day with the children and we’ve got a full fun day of activities prepared for them,” Labonte said. “We’re taking our entire team up there to perform live pit stops and we are making it a career day too. This visit is for the children to have fun and at the same time tell people in our community how they can donate or volunteer. For more information, visit www.bariumsprings.org.”
Live coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday begins at 6 p.m. ET on FOX. MRN Radio will also carry the event.
Appearances for fans this week by Bobby Labonte:
Bobby Labonte is signing autographs at JTG Daugherty Racing/MWR, 20310 Chartwell Center Drive, Cornelius, NC for Fan day on Wednesday, May 25th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM ET.
Also, he is signing autographs this week at Wal-Mart, 150 Concord Commons, Concord, NC on Friday, May 27th from 4 to 5 p.m. ET.