On April 14, 2002, Bobby Labonte won his first short track title in dominating fashion during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway with Joe Gibbs Racing.
On Sunday, he’s hoping history will repeat itself when he races the No. 47 Lance Toyota Camry fielded by JTG Daugherty Racing at the .526-mile oval in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.
“Martinsville Speedway is another track that I love and it is going to be a great track for us to go to,” Labonte said. “It’s always nice to go back to a track where you have won before. If we can stay out of harm’s way, we’ll have a shot at it.”
There is no wonder why Labonte deems Martinsville Speedway as a favorite track on the circuit with accolades, such as, the victory, one pole award, six top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
“Martinsville has been a track where I have excelled and I’m confident our short track program is going to be strong,” Labonte said. “JTG Daugherty Racing ran well there last year. Actually, I tested for them before they went to Martinsville when Marcos (Ambrose) qualified second. I drove a car similar to what they had and I was like, ‘Man, this thing is awesome.’ I’m really looking forward to this race.”
This weekend Labonte is focused on topping his best finish of fourth with JTG Daugherty Racing that occurred in the Daytona 500 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.
“Just knowing you’ve got a great opportunity with JTG Daugherty Racing to race to win is a big deal to me,” Labonte said. “We had a great finish at Daytona and a good run at Bristol Motor Speedway (13th) and overall we are laying some good baseline stuff down for our race team. We are also looking at our weaknesses and where we need to improve. We’re going to start picking up more as we get a foundation under our feet.”
Each week Labonte’s confidence grows while becoming more familiar with his crew chief Frank Kerr and his JTG Daugherty Racing team. This is only their sixth race together and they have earned one top-five, one top-10 and two top-15 finishes.
“Feeling comfortable in the car is a big key and I’m gaining confidence every weekend,” Labonte said. “The team has some great stuff, great equipment and we have awesome teammates. Our whole crew, Frankie (Frank Kerr), Raymond (Fox) and everyone that works on our Toyota Camry has been great to work with. Sure, we know we are going to be disappointed at times in a race, a finish, a performance, but we will bounce back. We’re very fortunate and we have great sponsors that support our efforts. Every week we’ll keep on working on it to make it better.”
JTG Daugherty Racing does have some of the best sponsors in the business and this weekend America’s favorite sandwich cracker, Lance® Sandwich Crackers, sponsors the No. 47 Toyota Camry for the first time this season.
“Lance® Sandwich Crackers, which is based in Charlotte, N.C., is on our Toyota Camry at Martinsville,” Labonte said. “We’re running their scheme also at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway (October). They are an incredible partner of JTG Daugherty Racing and a favorite brand of mine and my family. We’re looking forward to delivering a solid race for them on Sunday.”
JTG Daugherty Racing