Phoenix Racing and Bobby Labonte Finish 38th at Talladega
Talladega, Ala. (October 31, 2010) - The AMP Energy Juice 500 included every single bit of excitement on an eerie Halloween day at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. A photo finish, a flipped car and plenty of drama left fans on their feet. But, it was a disappointing end for Bobby Labonte and the No. 09 Komatsu/TEC team. They brought home a 38th-place finish after suffering a blown engine with 16 laps to go.
Starting the race Sunday afternoon in the 24th-position, Labonte stood strong and gained positions throughout the first third of the race, gaining at most 16 spots in one run. Green-flag pit stops began around Lap 36, and the No. 09 team had anticipation of coming in for two right-side tires and fuel. Unfortunately, with a dirt covered windshield tear-off, Labonte missed the pit stall and only took fuel, falling one lap down.
The first caution of the race flew at Lap 70 and Labonte came down pit road for four tires and fuel. Restarting on Lap 73, Labonte was battling for the 'lucky dog' pass to retain the lead lap.
Another set of green flag pit stops were in order and the Komatsu/TEC Chevrolet came down on Lap 115 for two right side tires and fuel. Hoping for a caution, and being in front for the lucky dog, the team got the caution they were waiting for at Lap 133. Robby Gordon received the Lucky Dog and Labonte chose to stay out and take the wave around.
Getting back on the lead lap with 50 laps to go, Labonte was sitting in 28th-position with the momentum to head to the front. The third caution flag flew at Lap 140 and the No. 09 pit crew came in for four tires, fuel and put Labonte out in the 20th-position.
Labonte restarted in the 18th-position on Lap 145 and gained five positions when the next caution flag flew at Lap 151 for debris. Staying out on the track allowed the No. 09 to gain seven positions and restart the race in 11th-position.
Getting caught in the draft, Labonte fell to the 23rd-position but maintained the strong Hendrick speed. With 16 laps to go, Labonte reported something broke and brought the car to pit road, finally diagnosing with terminal engine damage. The No. 09 Komatsu/TEC Chevrolet team was given credit with the 38th-position at the end.
"Today was a long race," Labonte said. "I missed our pit stop during green flag stops and it put us behind for the majority of the day. We were racing up there with the leaders, but it was just unfortunate that we were a lap down.
"Nick (Harrison, Crew Chief) made a great call to stay out and take the wave around. We were able to gain spots on pit road during our next stop and put us in a good position. Unfortunately, this Komatsu/TEC Chevrolet lost power. We had a great run going and were hoping to have a solid finish for all of our Komatsu/TEC guests."