TACH SPECIAL: Bobby Labonte Will Clinch Championship at Homestead
7 November 2000By David Treffer
Contributing Motorsports Editor
HOMESTEAD, FL: Tell the trophy engravers to start their work. The name on the Winston Cup Trophy is spelled "BOBBY LABONTE." This 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup championship fight is over. Yesterday's race in Phoenix was realistically the last chance for Dale Earnhardt or Jeff Burton. The two drivers currently occupy second and third place respectively in the points standings. For either driver to make any kind of move on Labonte in the last two races is going to take a Herculean effort on their part and a complete imploding by Labonte. It's not going to happen.
Roush Ford Exide driver Jeff Burton did everything that he possibly could yesterday in Phoenix to close on Labonte. He won the race for 175 points, led the most laps for another 10 points and gained 25 points on Labonte. The problem for Burton and Earnhardt is that Bobby Labonte finished fifth and earned 160 points. Earnhardt actually lost points to Labonte yesterday. The battle that will now be watched is going to be between Earnhardt and Burton as to who will finish second in the standings.
For Labonte to clinch the championship at Miami-Homestead this week-end he needs to finish in fifth place. By earning 155 points for fifth place, Labonte will seal the deal regardless of what Earnhardt or Burton achieve. Earnhardt could win the race and lead the most laps and still come up 3 points short of stopping Labonte from his destiny. This scenario also assumes that Labonte did not lead at least one lap.
Certainly something could stop the Interstate Batteries juggernaut but the team has the attitude of a champion which has been instilled by their leader-Joe Gibbs. No stone has been left unturned by the team.
Homestead was the site last year that crowned Dale Jarrett Winston Cup Champion. Perhaps a trend is beginning. Sunday will tell the tale.