Labonte and JTG Daugherty Racing Persevere to Post Best Finish of the Season at Daytona International Speedway
Bobby Labonte and his JTG Daugherty Racing team persevered to bring home their best finish of the season after a long night at Daytona International Speedway. Labonte collected his 202nd top-10 career finish thanks to his 10th-place finish in the 54th Annual Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola Saturday evening.
It was a hard-fought top-10 finish. Labonte was involved in an accident at lap 90 where his No. 47 Kingsford Toyota Camry sustained front-end damage. His JTG Daugherty Racing team remained calm and made the repairs needed to get Labonte back on track. The 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion stayed on his toes the rest of the night and dodged several bullets in the 160-lap event that had six cautions for 23 laps.
"There were a lot of cars collected tonight in wrecks and we were in one too, but the team did a really good job of assessing the situation with our Kingsford Charcoal Toyota," Labonte said. "We were able to avoid some really big accidents at the end to bring home a top-10 finish."
Matt Kenseth led the 43-car field to the green flag to kick off race number 18. Labonte started in the rear of the field and was running 32nd when he made his first pit stop at lap 40 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
"My temps shot up when I drove up behind the No. 13 car," Labonte said. "We're going to lose the draft."
Labonte did lose the draft while in 35th place along with his brother Terry Labonte, Blaney and Landon Cassill. It didn't take long for the lead pack to chase them down like a freight train.
"The lead pack is just off of two," Green said. "So, go as hard as you can here. They are going to catch us here soon."
At lap 80, the lead pack charged by Labonte.
"Hold your lane," Green said.
As soon as that happened, a caution occurred due to an incident involving Sam Hornish Jr. who took over AJ Allmendinger's No. 22 ride earlier that day.
"Bring it in," crew chief Todd Berrier said. "We are going to change four tires, add fuel and take two rounds out of the left rear."
"We are going to change four tires and look at everything," Berrier said. "The front end doesn't look that bad. We are going to push the hood down. When the next caution comes out, we are going to put water in it. So, get the cool down unit ready."
Labonte was 35th on the restart at lap 95.
"We're racing the 51 for the Lucky Dog here," Green said.
"The water has cooled off a little," Labonte said.
"You're holding your own," Green said.
"Get caught up," Green said. "You are the Lucky Dog."
On pit road under this yellow, Berrier had the pit crew change tires, add fuel and then lift the hood to add water to the radiator.
"You have plenty of time on pit road," Green said. "Okay, they are coming into Turn 4."
With the next caution at lap 144, Labonte keyed up his microphone.
"Alright, we are going to change tires here and add fuel," Berrier said.
Shown in 22nd with 12 to go, Labonte was ready to put this one in the books. With eight laps remaining, several cars were involved in a pileup going into Turn 1. Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Trevor Bayne, David Gilliland, Juan Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Blaney, Clint Bowyer and others were involved.
"I killed my tires trying to avoid that," said Labonte, who was shown in 12th place as the dust settled.
"Guys, let's change four tires and add fuel," Berrier said.
"Hey, David," Labonte said. "I forgot to tell you thank you for keeping me out of that mess. They were wrecking forever."
"No problem," Green said.
Labonte was 14th on the restart at lap 158. He held on for two more laps and advanced his position to 10th place before the checkered flag fell on the final lap.
"It was a tough night for everyone, but it feels good to leave here with a top-10 finish," Labonte said.
Tony Stewart won the event and the rest of the top 10 were as follows: Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Michael Waltrip and Labonte.
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Loudon, New Hampshire. Live coverage of the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday begins at 12 p.m. ET on TNT, PRN and Sirius XM.