Bobby Labonte's Unlucky Season

When you're down on luck, you're down on luck. Just ask Bobby Labonte, the driver of Joe Gibbs' #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet Monte Carlo about being down on luck. Since the very beginning of the season Bobby Labonte has been in a swirling spiral of bad luck. If other drivers started out their seasons as badly as Labonte has this season it would probably considered lack of skill or loss of skill.

When it happens to a former NASCAR champion with 21 career victories it's just plain ol' bad luck. Labonte's bad luck can be traced all the way back to last season when he was fifth in the drivers point standings and his longtime crew chief Michael "Fatback" McSwain was replaced with Steve Addington.

Bobby Labonte's bad luck in the NASCAR Nextel cup series started this season at the first race the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. On just the fourteenth lap into the "Great American Race" Labonte's engine let loose to bring out the first caution of the season and he would finish dead last. It definitely wouldn't be the last caution Labonte would see this season.

In the season's second race of the season at California Motor Speedway Labonte had a decent run and finished in the thirteenth spot. In the next race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the bad luck would return back to Bobby Labonte's side.

 Early on in the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 Bobby Labonte was caught up in a wreck and finished the race in the forty-first position. Maybe Bobby Labonte's luck would change as the circuit headed back south to Atlanta Motor Speedway. Unfortunately Bobby Labonte's luck would only get worse as on lap one at Atlanta Casey Mears lost control of his Dodge Charger and caused a multi-car pileup a few rows back that included Labonte's Monte Carlo. Labonte's crew was able to repair the car the best they could and Labonte returned to the track to salvage a thirty-seventh place finish. Labonte would have to hope that Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR's smallest track, but biggest attrition wise could snap his bad luck streak. Labonte had a mishap early on at Bristol and had to have a new front end placed on his Chevy by his crew. Labonte got back on the track and settled with a twenty-second place finish.

The next week at Martinsville Speedway it looked like Bobby Labonte's luck was finally about to turnaround. Labonte's Chevrolet was the class of the field on this day and he had led a good portion of the race. However, midway through the race at Martinsville Labonte lost an engine for the second time this season and finished the race in the garage for thirty-third position.

The old saying says, "Things must get worse before they can get better." By this time I'm sure Bobby Labonte thought things couldn't be any worse, but they could. Just thirty-two laps into the race at Texas Motor Speedway Labonte plowed into the back of Jeff Green's #43 Dodge Charger after Green's car made contact with Mark Martin's Ford. Labonte finished 102 laps off the pace and in thirty-eighth position.

As Phoenix rolled around Bobby Labonte was still in the biggest slump of his racing career. However, his luck would finally change for the good. He qualified fourth at Phoenix and ran in the top ten all night long, finishing in sixth place.

Eight races into the season Bobby Labonte finally recorded his first top ten. Hopefully, the Phoenix race is a sign of things to come for Bobby Labonte. I would like to wish him nothing but good luck for the rest of the season.


BY: Julian Spivey




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