Bobby Labonte And JTG Daughterty Racing Begin Journey To Daytona
CORNELIUS, February 8, 2011: Standing front and center during JTG Daugherty Racing's team meeting, Bobby Labonte shared his beliefs on what it takes to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Labonte based his dissertation on winning the 2000 championship and made sure his new team understood that it is not just about winning races and a championship, but the journey itself to get to that point. The 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner embarks upon a new journey with JTG Daugherty Racing when he straps into the No. 47 Kroger Toyota for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 20th.
“You have to remember to enjoy the journey,” Labonte told his team. “That's something that I wish I would have done a better job of when I won the championship in 2000 with Joe Gibbs Racing. I remember coming home after winning the championship and calling people to go celebrate, but everything was back to normal. Not long after, Mr. Gibbs told me that it's not just about winning a championship, but it's about the journey that gets you there. The same thing applies to winning our first race together. We have to have communication, focus and passion. The performance will come with that. We need to remember to enjoy it each step of the way.”
Labonte has won some significant races on the circuit like the Brickyard 400 and Coca-Cola 600 for instance, but a Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy is missing from his case. He came so close in 1998 battling the late Dale Earnhardt crossing the finish line second.
“I've finished second there, finished in the top-five a few times, won the pole, won a Gatorade Twin 125 (1999) and I even ran my first go-kart race there when I was 16,” Labonte said with a smile. “For me, it would mean a lot to win. I have been fortunate enough to win some big races, but that's the one that is missing. It would be really cool to have that trophy.”
Before the Daytona 500, Labonte leads JTG Daugherty Racing into their first-ever Budweiser Shootout. It was recently announced that Reese Towpower® will sponsor the No. 47 Toyota for the 33rd annual event on Saturday, February 12.
“We have Reese Towpower® on our Toyota Camry for the Bud Shootout, which I enjoy running because it's a great race,” Labonte said. “It gets you warmed up and ready to go for the rest of Speedweeks.”
The 75-lap event will give Labonte a glimpse of what to expect of the newly paved 2.5-mile tri-oval. Labonte and his No. 47 team were one of the first teams to try out the new surface during a Goodyear tire test in December at the “World Center of Racing.”
“It's going to be more of hooking up with the right person, getting pushed at the right time, being in the right lane at the right time and be more of a chess match than a handling situation,” Labonte said. “The new asphalt will take the handling character out of the track that has been there ever since I have been going there. It's not going to come down to handling like in the past.”
This weekend FOX will air the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday, February 12th at 8 p.m. ET. The next day, Daytona 500 qualifying presented by Kroger starts at 1 p.m. ET on FOX. Then the Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday, February 17th to determine the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 airs on SPEED Channel beginning at 2 p.m. ET. Live pre-race coverage of the Daytona 500 begins Sunday, February 20th at noon ET on FOX with the race following approximately one hour later. Check local listings for practice times as well as other NASCAR programming leading up to the Daytona 500.