Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte ran a severely limited schedule in 2014, but will be running at least four events in 2015. Go FAS Racing has signed the 21-time Cup Series winner to pilot the No. 32 C&J Energy Services Ford in each of the four restrictor plate races. “I’m excited for the opportunity …
The return to Pocono Raceway had it all: widespread pitting strategies, tire-care issues, a high-energy finish and even a Big One. It was the ideal ending to a two-week flat track endeavor. NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series now shifts focus to Watkins Glen International Raceway, where road course specialists will be looking to sneak into the …
In all seriousness, there wasn’t much for Bobby Labonte to smile about in 2012, as has been the case for the last several years for a former Cup champ who’s now almost a decade removed from victory lane.
There were a few typical Martinsville skirmishes on Sunday. Kurt Busch called Kevin Harvick “half-assed” when Harvick refused to cut him some slack as Busch wanted to move into the bottom groove and Harvick got into him instead spinning him around. Johnson was upset with Mears after Mears got into his right front, wrenching the steering wheel from his hands, though no damage was done. Montoya was upset with Johnson, who shoved his way underneath the No. 42 in the closing laps, sending him up the track.
Jimmie Johnson had the dominant car once Mark Martin was speared by the pit wall opening in a scary, mid-race crash. But as J.J. was strolling to what would have been his series-leading fourth victory, a valve spring failed with less than 15 miles left to run. That handed Greg Biffle Christmas in August, gift-wrapping him a second victory after a green-white-checkered finish and a pesky push from Michigan native Brad Keselowski.
If there was a prize for tenacity, Kurt Busch would have been in Victory Lane to receive it. Busch, running for one of the most underfunded teams in the elite field, bounced off the wall early and finished near the back of the early segments. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Even with a damaged car, Busch raced like it was for the win, running three-wide and never backing down from anyone’s challenge. And Busch’s perseverance paid off: he finished seventh in the final 20-lap segment and eighth overall. A week after showing the worst of Kurt Busch, Busch showed the best in Charlotte.
He didn’t end up in Victory Lane, but Martin Truex Jr. has been knocking on that door for weeks, and it won’t be long now for the Mayetta, N.J. native, who finished sixth on Saturday night. Truex and his Michael Waltrip Racing team have been red hot since last fall at Talladega, when they snatched up four top-10 finishes in five races to finish the year. Truex picked up 2012 right where he left off, with five top 10s in the first seven races and no result lower than 17th. Truex led four times for more than 60 laps on Saturday, flexing his muscle and it looks increasingly like this driver is on the brink of not only a win, but more than one of them.
The season-opening Daytona 500 saw Bobby Labonte in contention to win, as he was right on eventual winner Trevor Bayne’s bumper coming off the final turn before coming home in fourth.
*Who…gets my shoutout of the race?*
It was a particularly tough choice this week as drivers battled back from spins and mechanical issues to pull down top finishes, but one driver avoided the drama altogether to simply be there at the end. As he has done so often in his career, *Bobby Labonte* used patience, skill, and experience, to finish seventh, his second top 10 of the year and first since finishing fourth in the Daytona 500. Today’s run was vintage Labonte as the driver flew under the radar to steal a top spot when it counted.
If there had been a few more laps, Brad Keselowski might have watched the All-Star Race on TV, because Marcos Ambrose was driving it like he stole it in the closing laps, gaining like a freight train overtaking a tortoise. He ran out of time, finishing third, but Ambrose showed that once again, his Richard Petty Motorsports team could indeed be there at the end. Teammate AJ Allmendinger finished fourth to cap off a great night for the organization.