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Gibbs Racing happy at Lowe's

Teammates Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart have success at the track, though usually not at the same time.

Associated Press
Published May 27, 2004

CONCORD, N.C. - Bobby Labonte enjoys coming to Lowe's Motor Speedway for all the obvious reasons - it's close to home, the facilities are second to none and no one has more recent success at the track.

Since getting his first Nextel Cup victory there in 1995, Labonte has continued to run up front. His average finish of 4.7 over the past 10 races at the track is by far the best, well ahead of Mark Martin's 9.4. He added a second win in October 2000, and he has three poles since joining Joe Gibbs Racing. Labonte's record at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which has a similar design to Lowe's, also is stellar: six victories and an average finish of 6.6.

"Over the course of the years, it just seems those tracks are more to my liking," Labonte said Wednesday. "There's no rhyme or reason to it, other than I like both of them and it seems to favor our technique as far as setups go and also my driving style."

That history at Lowe's hardly helped last weekend, when Labonte finished 15th in the Nextel All-Star Challenge. He struggled throughout the night and was the final car on the lead lap.

Not only was the handling of his car off, but a vibration forced his crew to adjust the drive shaft after the first of three segments. Normally, a change like that only happens during practice or testing.

"I just figured, we weren't going to fix whatever our problems were, we might as well see if we could stop the vibration," Labonte said. "It wasn't that big of a deal."

Maybe he got his bad luck out of the way in time for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Qualifying is scheduled for tonight.

While Labonte was plodding along in the all-star race, Gibbs teammate Tony Stewart was running away in the opening 40 laps. He eventually finished third and added to his own history of success at the track.

Stewart has six top-five finishes in the past 10 races at Lowe's, including a win last fall. In that span, he has led 414 laps, trailing only Labonte and Jeff Burton. The strange thing about the success of Labonte and Stewart is they rarely experience it in the same race.

"It's kind of been feast or famine for us," Stewart said. "Normally, both of us aren't really good here at the same time. But it's been that way at Atlanta, too."

NASCAR ADMITS MISTAKE: NASCAR apologized to driver Carl Edwards and team owner Jack Roush for unintentionally turning on the caution lights at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Friday, costing Edwards a victory in the truck race. Edwards slowed down, giving up the lead to eventual winner Dennis Setzer, after he saw the caution lights blink on four laps from the end of the race.

Wayne Auton, director of the truck series, also apologized but said the officials results will stand.

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