DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2012) – – It’s hard to believe it is July and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is back at Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola . The year is flying by and Bobby Labonte and his JTG Daugherty Racing team are at the halfway point.
“We are at Daytona for the second time this year and it’s hard to believe our season is halfway,” Labonte said. “We’ve had a couple tough finishes and we’ve had some respectable finishes. We’re heading into Daytona with our third restrictor car. We didn’t bring the car we raced in the Daytona 500 or at Talladega Superspeedway this time. We’re trying this one out and hopefully we will qualify better than we have been. The biggest thing this weekend is to protect the engine by making sure it doesn’t get too hot and then be there at the end of the race and not get tore up in between.”
With it being the Fourth of July week, Kingsford Charcoal has major presence on Labonte’s No. 47 Toyota Camry at the 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway with 31-degree banking in the turns. Kingsford Charcoal’s campaign all season long encourages NASCAR fans to get outdoors and grill. Now, it is the perfect time this week.
“It’s always good to have our friends at Kingsford on board especially during the holidays,” Labonte said. “Fourth of July is the perfect time to spend time with your family and grill out. When I think of Daytona, I think of family because it’s a race that’s always ran on Saturday. So, a lot of people go down for the race and usually stay an extra day or two.
“Me and my family are spending a couple days at home this week before driving down to Daytona,” Labonte said. “We’re not doing a whole lot this week, but we will during our off week coming up in a couple weeks. Grilling will definitely be involved.”
In the season opener, Labonte raced his No. 47 Kroger/USO Toyota Camry to a 14th-place during the Daytona 500 that was postponed to Monday night due to inclement weather. The 2000 champion has come so close to winning both Daytona races in the same year. In 1998, he was impressive winning the pole twice and then finished second in both events.
“We took care of the car in those races and almost won twice at Daytona in the same year,” said Labonte, who also has six top-five, nine top-10, two poles and has led 70 laps at Daytona. “It’s like I said earlier, we just need to make sure we are there at the end on Saturday night. Anyone can win this race. Last year, it was really exciting to see David Ragan win it.
“It’s a great race that is sponsored by Coke Zero and Coca-Cola,” continued the Coca-Cola Racing Family driver. “If we are competitive enough and can hang out in the top 15, we’ll be able to race up to the top five fairly easy. We’re hoping for similar luck that we had in the Daytona 500 in February.”
Before practice on Thursday (7/5), Labonte will be signing autographs for fans at Walmart from 1 to 2 p.m. ET at 1590 Dunlawton Avenue, Port Orange, Florida 32127.
Live coverage of the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT. PRN and Sirius XM will also broadcast the event.