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Labonte’s Resurgence Challenges Old Adage

  • Jun 20, 2003

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 20, 2003) – “It’s not where you start but where you finish that’s important.”

The old racing adage certainly has merit, but thus far in the 2003 NASCAR season, Terry Labonte and Kellogg’s / got milk? Racing have put together an impressive string of qualifying efforts that have been instrumental in the team’s resurgence.

As the two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion puts it so simply, “Better qualifying runs mean fewer cars to pass.” And fewer cars to pass has led to a string of finishes that has Labonte sitting 15th in the championship standings heading into this weekend’s road race in Sonoma, Calif.

With 15 events completed, Labonte already has matched his 2002 season total of four top-10 finishes. And it’s the success the team has enjoyed on qualifying day that’s laid the groundwork for the turnaround.

Through 15 races last year, Labonte’s average start was 26th. This year? Look at the numbers.

Relative to 2002, he has started in a higher position on the grid in 10 of the 15 races thus far. At this point last season, Labonte had used six provisional starting spots. This year? Just three.

Since winning the 27th pole position of his career last month, Labonte’s average starting position has shrunk to 14th. And he’s put together a series of qualifying efforts the likes of which the team hasn’t seen since his championship run of the mid-1990s.

May 3—Richmond, Va.
Qualified—1st
Best Since—1997

June 1—Dover, Del.
Qualified—8th
Best Since—1996

June 8 – Pocono, Pa.
Qualified—11th
Best Since—1997

June 15—Brooklyn, Mich.
Qualified—5th
Best Since—1994

Prospects for continued qualifying success this weekend are good with the return to Infineon Raceway’s 1.99-mile road course. Eight of Labonte’s 27 career poles have come on road courses, including the No. 1 qualifying spot at Sonoma in 1996.

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