NASCAR BGN: Bobby Labonte Set to Drive Shell Pontiac at Dover
18 September 1998DOVER, DE - Bobby Labonte will drive the Shell Pontiac in the upcoming MBNA Gold 200 at Dover Downs International Speedway. The race will mark the Winston Cup regular's fifth 1998 appearance in NASCAR Busch Grand National Competition.
Labonte is subbing for Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart at Dover Downs due to the contractual commitment Stewart has with Menard Racing to compete in the Indy Racing League event in Texas.
"Dover is one of my favorite tracks and I always look forward to being with the Shell team," said Labonte. "Throughout the years, we have consistently had good runs in the Busch events and won the spring race in 1997. Tony had a great run here earlier this year bringing the Shell Pontiac home in third. I think we can repeat that performance this weekend.
"Bryant (Frazier, crew chief) and the guys have adapted very well to having both of us drive the car this season," continued Labonte. "We have been able to utilize the information we gain running the same tracks in different events and transfer it to one another well. With the level of competition being so intense in the Busch series, you have to be pretty close to the right set-up off the truck. Using what they learned in the spring race about the tires and chassis should help us be ready to roll for the first practice on Friday. Even though I am the substitute driver for the Shell team, the goal is the same, to get Shell and Joe Gibbs Racing in victory circle."
Prior to this season, Labonte was the owner/driver of the Shell-sponsored team running a limited BGN schedule. Following the sale of the team to Joe Gibbs Racing, Shell Oil Company made the decision to continue as the primary sponsor for 1998.
Labonte has nine NASCAR BGN victories to his credit. He has garnered 48 top- five and 88 top-ten finishes and was crowned the series champion in 1991. In previous Dover Downs BGN competition, Labonte captured the win in the 1997 race and has three top-five finishes..
Shell is an associate sponsor of Labonte's #18 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Winston Cup car. Currently ranked sixth in the Winston Cup point standings, Labonte has captured two victories in 1998 - Atlanta and Talladega - nine top- five and 14 top-ten finishes. He is currently sixth in the point standings.
The MBNA Gold 200 is scheduled for Saturday, September 19 beginning at 1:00 p.m./ (EDT). The race will be broadcast live by TNN. Radio coverage will be live on MRN reaching over 400 affiliate stations nationwide.