The Frontstretch: A lot of toil and trouble for Bobby Labonte these days by Cheryl Walker -- Monday April 18, 2005

Go to site navigation Go to article

A lot of toil and trouble for Bobby Labonte these days

Cheryl Walker · Monday April 18, 2005


One of the easiest cars to pick out on any track is the familiar and eye-catching green one of Bobby Labonte’s. The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet also has one of the coolest paint schemes, with that jagged black bolt of lightning surrounding the car, trimmed in red.

I have heard there are some folks in racing that believe green is an unlucky color for a racecar, and drivers like Sterling Marlin won’t have a speck of it anywhere just in case (I know this to be true, as once I mistakenly handed Marlin a green Sharpie to use to sign an autograph. His hand jerked back from that marker like I was trying to hand him the business end of a branding iron).

The ‘greenaphobics’ are surely conjecturing that Labonte’s poor performances of late could be because he’s carried that green color for too long, and that he’s brewed up a bad case of ‘limes-make-lemons’, at least with racecars.

I do not hold much stock in such theories. I would respond to such claims that it was a green car that took Bobby Labonte to the championship in 2000, and if this color were so bad, that would never have happened in the first place.

We know that it’s really not the color. And we also know that Bobby is one of the most competent and skilled drivers on the track. Labonte is not known to be a bump-n-runner or overly aggressive, yet if he has the car to beat you with, he will. ‘Clean and mean’ might be a good description of him.

I heard Michael McSwain report once that despite Labonte’s laidback appearance during interviews, Bobby is actually one of the fiercest competitors that ‘Fatback’ ever worked with as a crew chief; that Labonte loved to win, and took poor performances very hard. One can only imagine, then, how Labonte is feeling these days. Once any driver has been a star in Victory Lane or hoisted that championship trophy, he must burn to do so again and again.

So far this season, out of the seven races run, the best Labonte has managed are a 13th finish at California, and a 22nd finish at Bristol. As each race ticks off the schedule and is placed in the record books, the Labonte team, and fans, must surely be growing more frustrated.

My son, Joshua, is Bobby’s biggest fan. You would think that he would be pretty despondent at this point. But, if anything, it seems Joshua has become more resolute in his belief in Bobby and his team, and that things will be turning around for them soon. Every race day he pulls as earnestly for Labonte as when Bobby was having a winning season.

I think Joshua represents the perfect Labonte fan, and reflects Bobby’s attitude about things: No, it’s not so good right now, but I believe anyway.

That would make a nice sign for their shop, don’t you?

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … A Return To Richmond, Post-Spingate And Quick Hits
NASCAR Mailbox: A ‘Normal’ Saturday And A Valuable Lesson
Beyond the Cockpit: Tony ‘The Sarge’ Schumacher
Open Wheel Wednesday: Controversial Moves, Long Beach Crowds, and Being a Fuddy Duddy
The Frontstretch Five: Pleasant Surprises of 2014 So Far
IndyCar Driver Profile: Takuma Sato
Beyond the Cockpit: Tommy Baldwin on Owning His Team, Hall of Fame and the Number Seven


©2000 - 2008 Cheryl Walker and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

04/18/2005 11:44 PM
Great article mum.

You are the best writer ever.
04/18/2005 11:44 PM
Great Article Cheryl:
No, it’s not so good right now, but I believe anyway.
ps. I own two green cars!!!
04/19/2005 12:50 PM
WOW what a fantastic article!! That is how we feel at Bobby’s Backers! You and your son should come over and visit us.
04/20/2005 04:53 PM
It’s easy to be a fan of someone who wins every week. Because Bobby is such a class act, his fans are pulling for him and are more fiercely supportive of him than ever. We know what he can do, and he’ll do it again—no doubt in our minds about that!!!


Cheryl is no longer a contributor to the Frotnstretch, having branched out on her own, starting CawsnJaws with her son Josh. If you'd like to see more of Cheryl's Frontstretch articles, check out her bio and archive page.