Bobby Labonte Wins Busch Series GM Goodwrench/Delco Battery 200
31 May 1997DOVER, DE -- Bobby Labonte, starting from the outside of row one, has won the GM Goodwrench / DELCO Battery 200. Labonte not only won the race but some might argue that he dominated it by leading some 97 circuits of the 200 lap event.
Labonte for all intents and purposes drove a three segment race with the beginning and end segments being the best runs of the day. The middle segment, that began on lap 50 after NASCAR threw the the caution flag for a tire check, was Labonte's only problem part of the day. "We didn't have a good setup there that middle part (of the race)," said Labonte. "I got going there and those guys were pretty fast and I had to let them go." Labonte ran that set of tires down to the cords.
It was after Labonte's last stop that the Shell Pontiac started to come to him. Labonte then picked the competition off, one-by-one, until he was the point man and then just drove laps till the checkers fell. Even brother Terry gave younger brother Bobby Labonte a helping hand today. Terry, who was getting lapped on lap 199 by Bobby, drifted up the track and let him by then came back down to cover Bobby's rear bumper.
The driver that finished second was Winston Cup regular Jeff Burton. Burton, who started 14th on the field, just kept plugging till he got to the front of the pack. An exited Burton said, "This is a lot of fun. Racing Randy (LaJoie) that hard, then Bobby (Labonte) that hard, it was a lot of fun. There are a lot of good racers in the Busch series and it is a lot if fun to be here."
>From third back it was the Busch series regulars that took the top-five spots. Third was LaJoie, Fourth went to Kevin Lepage and fifth was Earnhardt protege Steve Park.
Randy LaJoie, by beating Todd Bodine to the checkers, picks up the NASCAR Busch series points lead once again. And by leading the series points battle at the seasons midway point, LaJoie gets to pocket the Gatorade Front Runner Award, a $10,000 bonus paid by the Gatorade Sports Beverages company.
LaJoie, reflecting on the BACE Motorsports first-half season efforts said, "We'll just keep digging. But hey we got the points lead back and Gatorade gave us a bunch of money. Steve (Bird-crew chief for the #74) is pretty happy, I'm pretty happy and we got the next weekend off. Then we got to South Boston. It's sponsors like Gatorade that give the series money to give us money at the halfway point. I'd like to thank Ed (Schoals of Gatorade), they do a great job and they help this series."
The pole sitter, Dick Trickle, had an early day after he tangled with Kevin Lepage in turn two. Trickle was having a problem getting through the turns due to a slight push. Lepage, thinking Trickle was going to give him room to get by, tapped the rear of the Dura Lube Chevrolet and sent Trickle spinning. Trickle hit outside wall as he exited turn two and 'back-halved' his car ending his day early.
The other driver who had a bad shake was Patty Moise. Moise driving the Pure Silk Chevrolet for the first time this season got tangled up in a lap five incident. The incident was not of Moise's making but the result was an early trip to the hauler and last place money.
There were 13 lead changes among 7 drivers in the GM Goodwrench/DELCO Battery 200. Labonte beat Burton to the checkers by some five car lengths and there were only 7 cars on the lead lap at the end.
The next Busch series event is the South Boston 300 on June 13th.
Mike Snow -- The Auto Channel