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Terry Labonte Set for Final California Run

Southern California has always had a lot to offer, with its scenic views and wonderful weather.  And now, with the California Speedway nearby, it’s a veritable utopia for West Coast NASCAR fans.

Two-time NEXTEL Cup Series champion Terry Labonte has always enjoyed his trips to “SoCal,” where’s he’s spent many a race weekend.  This one, though, will be his last there as he finishes up the final few races of his storied career.

“I always liked going to the area and the weather is beautiful,” said Labonte, who will race in Sunday’s Cup event.  “California has always been one of my favorite places ever since they opened it.  I think it’s a great facility and I like the racing on the track itself.”

As Labonte heads toward his final race, which will come at Texas Motor Speedway in November, he admits there’s a change in approach now that he’s running a partial Cup schedule.

“There’s a little different mindset,” he said.  “You have to be a little extra cautious when you’re racing the guys who are running a full-time schedule.  I know how important the points standings are, especially when you get down to the last 10 races.  One race can make a big difference.

“I know how tough it is to be in the top 10, so I have a lot of respect for those guys and try to be sure I don’t mess them up.”

But don’t take that to mean Labonte isn’t competitive.  He recently finished third at another California track—the Infineon Raceway road course in Sonoma, where he led 17 laps.

The native Texan is hoping to have similar success this weekend at California Speedway, where he’s posted some impressive stats.  Prior to his “Shifting Gears” tour, he held the record for most competitive miles and, of the 11 races he’s run there, he holds two top-five results and four top 10s.

“We’ve had some pretty good runs (at California),” Labonte said.  “We finished second our first time there and really thought we had the car to win that day.  I think we had a loose wheel and had to make an extra pit stop.

“It’s just always been a track that I enjoyed.”