889 down, one to go for Terry Labonte?
Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Terry Labonte (left) talks with Ryan Newman before the start of the 2014 Sprint Unlimited. 2014 will be Labonte's last season in NASCAR.
With the completion of only his third event this season, Terry Labonte is likely scheduled to make his fourth and final start of 2014, and career, at Talladega Superspeedway in October.
The two-time Cup champion, who hasn’t run full-time since 2004, evaded both wrecks in Sunday’s rain delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway en route to an eleventh place run.
The finish was Labonte’s best since a third place run at Sonoma in 2006, and career-best for fourth year team owner Frank Stoddard.
“It’s going to be a special occasion to be a
part of. He’s meant a lot to the sport… To be a part of his career in a small
way is humbling.”
In a career spanning 37 years, Labonte finished top-ten in points 17 times, scored 22 wins, and won two championships with two different owners.
“I still love [racing],” Labonte said to Motor Racing Network’s Dustin Long in February. “I’ve been dragging this retirement out for about seven years.”
The article also entertains the idea of Labonte possibly running races outside the restrictor plate tracks.
Labonte has run at Sonoma and Indianapolis once and Bristol twice for the backmarker team, most recently at the Spring Bristol race in 2013.
Team owner Frank Stoddard spoke with The Racing Experts about the performance of the No. 32 team in Daytona.
“I was happy for Terry, being his last race in Daytona,” Stoddard said. “Obviously, anyone can pull off a good finish at Daytona and Talladega, so I don’t get too overly excited about it, but certainly happy about it.”
And although Labonte may only run one more race this season, additional races aren’t being ruled out.
“That could be subject to change,” Stoddard said of adding to Labonte’s driving schedule.
But no matter the circumstances at Talladega, Stoddard will be grateful for the four years Labonte drove for him when he climbs from the cockpit for the final time.
“It’s going to be a special occasion to be a part of,” Stoddard said. “He’s meant a lot to the sport… To be a part of his career in a small way is humbling.”
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Terry Labonte is turned in the 2012 Daytona 500 while running inside the top-five. Labonte completed the race 18th.