Bobby Labonte Ready to Get Back in the Seat at Daytona

No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota News and Notes:

  • Joe Gibbs Racing veteran and NASCAR Champion Bobby Labonte returns to the NASCAR XFINITY Series this week as driver of the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (DIS). Labonte will complete ‘double-duty’ as he runs Saturday with Joe Gibbs Racing before running his 24th Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event with Go Fas Racing on Sunday.

 

  • 2016 marks Labonte’s 30th consecutive year as a professional racecar driver. He was one of the early drivers behind the wheel of the No. 18 at Joe Gibbs Racing and through his career with the now 25-year organization Labonte earned 21 victories and a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in 2000. Labonte is also a NASCAR Champion in the XFINITY Series (1991) and the IROC Series (2001) and has victories recorded in all three of NASCAR’s premier racing series.

 

  • Labonte’s last entry at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was July of 2015 when he was involved in an accident in the beginning of the race that ended his night early. Labonte’s February 2015 Sprint Cup Series race at the ‘World Center of Racing’ completed with a 24th-place result. The last XFINITY Series entry for the series champion was in 2008 when Labonte started in seventh place and completed with a 15th-place result.

 

  • This week in the XFINITY Series season-opener, and back with longtime team Joe Gibbs Racing, Labonte will tackle the famed superspeedway, a 2.5-mile oval that offers the best of racing and the highs and lows of superspeedway action. Representing new colors with partner NOS Energy Drink and a renewed No. 18 for the JGR XFINITY outfit, Labonte and returning crew chief Chris Gayle will pilot the race together.

 

  • One year ago, with regular program driver Kyle Busch, Gayle watched his team perform a competitive run and led 27 laps in the XFINITY series season opener, when a dramatic front stretch accident sidelined the veteran competitor for 11 season races. Gayle would continue the No. 54 team with various drivers early in 2015 until Busch’s return and triumphant victory at Michigan International Speedway that June.

 

  • The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team’s goal will be to capture a NASCAR Owner’s Championship in the XFINITY Series in 2016. With Busch, Labonte and Hamlin confirmed in the No. 18 driver’s seat and with the recent announcement of rookie Matt Tifft as driver, crew chief Chris Gayle is optimistic for their chances at a championship.

 

  • Joe Gibbs Racing at Daytona in the NASCAR Xfinity Series covers 70 races, four wins, 19 top-five finishes, 29 top-10 finishes, six poles and 563 laps led.

 

  • Loop Data Statistics over the past three XFINITY series races at DIS record Labonte with: Laps in the Top 15 (112, 93.3%), Fastest Laps Run (4), Quality Passes (137, 95.8%) and Green Flag Passes (143) with an Average Position of 10th.

 

  • Crew Chief Chris Gayle’s Daytona statistics include six races over three years accomplishing two top-five finishes and 70 laps led. Gayle served as crew chief of JGR’s No. 54 XFINITY Series team the previous season, and was formerly race engineer on JGR’s No. 18 Sprint Cup Series team, both aligned with Busch.

 

  • Race Info: February 20, 2016 at 3:30pm EST live on Fox Sports 1 the Powershares QQQ 300; 120 laps, 300 miles

 

Bobby Labonte @ Daytona in All Series over Career: 

Series Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Led Earnings AvSt AvFn
Sprint Cup                
46 races 0 6 10 2 70 $7,841,288 21.8 21.8
XFINITY                
8 races 0 0 2 0 18 $158,736 21.8 20.9

 

Bobby Labonte NASCAR XFINITY Series Career Results:

Series Wins Top 5 Top 10 Poles Led Earnings AvSt AvFn
XFINITY                
202 races 10 51 100 10 1659 $2,358,788 14.6 14.5

 

-21 victories as Joe Gibbs Racing driver

-Winner in all three of NASCAR’s top-level racing series

-2001 IROC Champion

-2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion with Joe Gibbs Racing

-1991 NASCAR XFINITY Series Driver’s Champion with Joe Gibbs Racing

 

From the Cockpit:

How does it feel entering your 30th year as a competitive racecar driver and back with Joe Gibbs Racing for this Daytona XFINITY Series start?

“I’m excited about the opportunity to drive for JGR again. I didn’t think this would ever happen and when Joe called me about the program, it was a ‘no-brainer.’ Great race team, great cars, the opportunity is a good one. There would be nothing better than to hang a flag in this building too.”

 

Have you been keeping up with the XFINITY Series over the past few years since your last entry?

“I do watch the series and listen to the drivers on the radio. It’s a different set of rules obviously, the bodies have more drag, are easier to push but they don’t allow you to push. I look forward to getting in there this week and seeing what we can do in our NOS Energy Drink Camry.”

 

From the Pit Box:

What are your expectations for this team to start the year, and in a place where 2015 began in a difficult manner, with Kyle’s accident?

“It feels good to be talking about going to the race track again. The 2015 season certainly gave us some challenges with Kyle’s accident, but more importantly he recuperated from it and we were able to finish the season strong with seven total wins. I don’t go into Daytona thinking about last February, but there certainly were things we learned from that accident which will allow us to continue to improve safety for our drivers.”

 

Are you ready for the crew chief role with Bobby?

“It’s neat because Bobby (Labonte) was the first Cup series driver I worked with in 2004. I was team engineer then, so to come full circle and now have the opportunity to work with him as crew chief, is great. And being JGR’s 25th anniversary season, I’m happy to have the opportunity to try and give us all that win out of the gate, on the XFINITY side, certainly would be fun for Bobby’s return and for the returning NOS Energy Drink sponsor.”

 

 

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