Labonte Has Solid Run at Richmond International Raceway and Finishes 17th in No. 47 BUSH'S® BEANS Toyota Camry
RICHMOND, Va. (April 29, 2012) - It was a solid run for Bobby Labonte and the No. 47 Bush's Beans Toyota Camry team during the 58th Annual Capital City 400 Presented By Virginia Is For Lovers at Richmond International Raceway. If it had not been for a caution pinning Labonte two laps down following a green flag pit stop at lap 308, he would have easily finished higher than 17th-place on the lead lap Saturday night.
On Friday, the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion posted the 19th fastest time in qualifying and Mark Martin won the pole. From the beginning of the race, Labonte passed cars all night. The first 34 laps of the 400-lap event he planted the No. 47 Bush's Beans Toyota Camry in the top 20 until he started to report challenges with handling.
"It's too tight in the center and free on exit," Labonte communicated to crew chief Todd Berrier.
NASCAR's competition yellow at lap 50 gave the JTG Daugherty Racing pit crew an opportunity to figure out how to help their driver.
"It's tight in the center, forward drive off," Labonte said.
"Bring it in here," Berrier said. "We are going to change four tires, make a track bar adjustment and change the rear air pressure to help forward drive."
Labonte was 26th when Carl Edwards led the 43-car field back to green on lap 56.
"It's tight in the center," Labonte reported at lap 81.
Under caution at lap 116, Labonte updated everyone on how his car was running.
"It's free on entry, tight in the center and free on exit," Labonte said.
"We are going to make a left side air pressure adjustment and track bar," Berrier said as Labonte came in for four tires and fuel at lap 118.
Returning to work in 23rd place at lap 122, Labonte wasted no time to march forward. Within seven laps, he was back inside the top 20.
By lap 157, he was passing Jeff Burton for 15th place and then he blew by Matt Kenseth for 14th five laps later.
"Good corner," spotter David Green told Labonte. "You're pulling away."
Labonte was not only was pulling away, but he was reeling in the top 10 moving into 13th place on lap 168.
As his car became tighter in the center, he maintained his top 15 run. Before pitting at lap 203 for four tires and fuel, he was scored in 11th place.
A caution flag gave the JTG Daugherty Racing team another stab at improving the car's handling at lap 228.
"It's free on entry and then gets tight," Labonte said.
"We are going to put on four tires, add fuel and tighten you where you need with wedge and also make an air pressure adjustment," Berrier replied.
Labonte restarted 19th on lap 236. He snuck back into the top 15 by lap 306 before pitting for four tires and fuel at lap 308 under green. The team was having a solid night and Labonte was making forward progress the majority of the race. Moments after Labonte pitted, a caution occurred at lap 310 for debris and leader Carl Edwards had not pitted. It was misfortunate because it pinned Labonte and others, who were on the lead lap, two laps down.
"We are going to do the wave around here, but we will still be one lap down because the 99 had not pitted," Berrier said. "There are 15 cars on the lead lap."
Labonte was 19th one lap down when the field cycled. The race stayed green until 14 laps to go.
"Let's do the wave around here to get back on the lead lap," Berrier said. "Doing this will put us the last car on the lead lap."
Once the field was back to racing with nine to go, Labonte held his own and picked up a couple spots to finish 17th. Kyle Busch won the event in front of an estimated attendance of 88,000.
"Everyone did a really good job tonight," Labonte told his team after taking the checkered flag. "We're making progress. I look forward to Talladega Superspeedway."
Live coverage of the Aaron's 499 on FOX begins at 12 p.m. ET at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, May 6.