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NASCAR BGN Series Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 Report: #44 Bobby Labonte

21 October 1997

 #44 Bobby Labonte, Shell Oil Pontiac Grand Prix 
 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division
 Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 Race Report
 California Speedway
 October 19, 1997


FONTANA, CA - Bobby Labonte's rotten luck in the NASCAR Busch Series 
continued Sunday afternoon in the Kenwood 300 at California Speedway. The 
driver of the Shell Oil Pontiac dominated the 300 mile race, leading 76 of 
the event's 150 laps, but ran out of gas with nine laps remaining. He was
credited with 30th in the final finishing order. 

"It's a bit embarrassing," Labonte said. "We thought we might have to come in 
to the pits before the end of the race but we didn't think it was going to 
happen that early. It's a shame because we had 'em covered. Today was the 
last race for Bobby Labonte Racing and Shell and I wanted to go out a winner. 
We came up short." 

Tony Stewart will take over behind the wheel of the Shell Pontiac in the final
two Busch Series events this year at Rockingham, NC,  and Homestead, FL.

Joe Gibbs Racing will assume ownership of the team effective at season's end.

"We had the race won," crew chief Bryant Frazier said. "Before we ran out of 
gas, we had a nine second lead on the second place car. When Bobby came on 
the radio and said that something happened, my heart fell into my britches.
The guys who does our fuel mileage is a mechanical engineer so I know lack of 
intelligence wasn't the problem. I wish I really knew what happened. 

"We've had some frustrating things happen to us this year. We cut a tire down 
and hit the wall while leading late in the Gateway 300 at St. Louis. At some
other races we've been down on power or had bad pit stops. Today was the most 

Labonte earned the second starting position during time trials Friday
afternoon with a lap of 41.194 seconds, 174.783 mph. Pole winner Steve Park
edged Labonte by just .09-second.

"We were very fast right off the truck," Labonte said after his run. "Our
Shell Pontiac has been awesome. I told our guys before we went out to qualify
that if we didn't go fast today it was the driver's fault, not the car."  

By Camp & Associates, Inc.