Labonte Posts 22nd-place Finish in the No. 47 BUBBA burger® Toyota at Pocono Raceway
Bobby Labonte turned in a 22nd-place finish in the No. 47 BUBBA burger® Toyota Camry during the 31st Annual Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR on Sunday afternoon.
"We hoped for a better finish," said Labonte, who ran inside the top 20 the majority of the race. "There at the end we lost a little time because I was trying really hard and almost wrecked it getting in too high."
The three-time Pocono Raceway winner posted a time of 51.260 seconds (175.575 mph) with the JTG Daugherty Racing team to start 27th in the 400-mile race. 22-year-old Joey Logano won the Coors Light Pole Award with a track record lap of 50.112 seconds (179.598 mph) to earn his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole in 125 starts. Logano went on to win the race too. Carl Edwards started on the outside pole with Paul Menard (50.397 seconds), Kyle Busch (50.399 seconds) and Denny Hamlin (50.408 seconds) to round out the top five starters.
There was a two-day test session along with the usual practice sessions before qualifying and the first of two Pocono races this season. As the race began under sunny skies, NASCAR's plans were to implement a competition caution that the team's welcomed.
"We'll go 20 laps here and it can be a good little test for us," said spotter David Green referring to the mandatory caution.
Right off the bat, Landon Cassill's No. 83 Toyota broke loose directly in front of Labonte on Lap 1 and ran into a couple cars (No. 56, 22) alongside him in Turn 3.
"Good job of avoiding that," Green said. "Your grill looks okay."
"They were all jammed up in front of me when the No. 83 turned around," Labonte said. "I saw that coming."
"Okay we've got about 15 to go before the competition caution," crew chief Todd Berrier said.
Restarting in 20th place, Logano led Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray and the rest of the field to the flag stand to get back to business. Coming up to speed, Labonte updated his JTG Daugherty Racing pit crew.
"It's really loose in Turn 3, but not too bad in 1 and 2," Labonte said.
The yellow flag was in the air again at lap 13 for an accident involving Reed Sorenson, Tony Raines and JJ Yeley in Turn 3. Labonte came to pit road for four tires, fuel and two turns down on the track bar.
"The 1 (McMurray), 2 (Brad Keselowski) and 11 (Denny Hamlin) stayed out," Green said. "We'll see how the ones that stayed out do and watch how the guys that took only two tires fair. That was considered our competition yellow."
Running 22nd at lap 31, Labonte told Berrier and his crew that he felt like he was about out of brakes.
"Do what you can to manage and we'll be pitting pretty soon," Berrier said.
As his BUBBA burger Toyota was tight up off one of the corners, Labonte was also trying to manage his brakes the best he could. By lap 38, he was running in 19th place considering what he was facing.
"You're really doing a good job through the tunnel," Green said.
"Okay, bring it in," Berrier said at lap 42. "We're changing four tires and packing it full of fuel."
"The right front chatters," Labonte said. "Tight."
Labonte was shown in 17th place on the scoring monitor at lap 47.
"You just turned your fastest lap of the race," Green said.
"The chatter seems to have gone away," Labonte said. "It's just a little tight off Turn 3."
10 laps later Labonte said the main thing was that he was tight up off of Turn 3. As he headed to pit road at lap 67 under caution, he was shown in 16th place. The JTG Daugherty Racing pit crew changed four tires, made an air pressure adjustment and added fuel.
"The brakes seem to level off a little," Labonte said.
"There's about six wave-arounds and it's showing us in position 17," Green said. "You've got the 14 (Tony Stewart) in your mirror and the 78 (Regan Smith) to your left."
"Are these tires scuffs or stickers," Labonte asked.
"Scuffs," Berrier responded.
In 17th place back to green flag racing, Labonte was door-to-door with Juan Pablo Montoya trying to hold his position. As Labonte got caught in the middle and shuffled a couple spots back, a debris caution occurred at lap 73.
"I just got freight trained down the front straightaway," Labonte said. "It's loose on entry into Turn 3."
"We're staying out here," Berrier said.
"The 18 (Kyle Busch) is smoking and dropping oil on the track," Labonte said.
"Yeah, it may take a little while to cleanup," Green said.
For the restart at lap 82, Labonte was trying to charge his way into the top 15 when we was pushed back to 23rd place. Trying to take care of his car, he maintained a top 25 run. He was a little tight at that point with a front tire chatter.
During his green flag stop at lap 101, if was four Goodyear sticker tires, fuel and tape pulled off of his the No. 47 BUBBA burger Toyota.
"It's tight with new tires," Labonte said.
"10-4," Green said. "You just ran your fastest lap."
"The next time we pit, we are going to do stickers again," Berrier said.
The No. 43 car wrecked in front of Labonte's Camry at lap 123 allowing the team to change four tires, add fuel and go down one round on the track bar.
"Bring it in again," Berrier said. "We're going to top it off with fuel now. We are good to go to the end."
Labonte was in 19th place with 10 laps remaining as there was a debris caution.
"Let's come on in because we will have better tires," Berrier said.
In 23rd, place Labonte made his forward march as the laps dwindled. With five to go, he was 21st moving forward. With three to go he reentered the top 20. In the end, he crossed the finish line 22nd.
On Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway in the Quicken Loans 400. Live coverage on TNT begins at 12 p.m. ET. MRN Radio and SiriusXM will broadcast the event.