tampabay.com

Labonte brothers join forces for 24 hours

NASCAR veterans long aspired to add title to impressive resumes.

By SHAWN A. AKERS
Published February 5, 2005


DAYTONA BEACH - Bobby and Terry Labonte have nothing to prove to anyone in racing, or themselves for that matter.

Terry has won two championships and 22 races at NASCAR's top level. Bobby is the only driver to win season titles in both the Busch series and the top level and has posted 21 wins in Nextel Cup. So why, after all these years, did the Labonte brothers feel the itch to be a part of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway?

"It's a race you always watch and you always want to be a part of," Bobby said. It won't be Terry's first time in the event. The elder Labonte, who will run a limited Nextel Cup schedule this year, made seven starts between 1981 and 1987 with a best finish of sixth. That year his team finished best in his class of GT1 in a Camaro.

"I think it's a neat series, and if you watch it, it's very competitive," Terry said. The brothers are members of the No. 44 Doran Racing team, which includes endurance-car standout Jan Magnussen and Indy Racing League stalwart Bryan Herta. On Thursday the team qualified in seventh position for the event that begins today.

Daytona won't be the only Grand American Rolex series race for the Labontes in 2005. As Bobby's Nextel Cup series schedule allows, they'll also race in the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona (held in conjunction with the Nextel Cup Pepsi 400) and the Aug. 11-12 event on the road course at Watkins Glen International.

For the first time since 1980, Terry won't participate in NASCAR Speedweeks at Daytona. He announced his "semiretirement" from the Nextel Cup series in the fall. "So I guess you can say that (the Rolex 24) is my Daytona," Terry said. "It's going to be strange not to be racing down here in the next couple of weeks, for sure. But I would have never been able to drive in this race if I was still doing the full deal in Cup." While Terry, 48, is winding down his career, Bobby is exploring more avenues after turning 40 in May. Bobby, who used to run several Busch races a year but focused on Nextel Cup in '99, will run eight Busch events in 2005.

Bobby also will run a few Truck events after racing twice in that division in 2004 with a best finish of third at Martinsville. He also ran two Late Model races.

The Rolex 24 is the first time the brothers share a car, but they worked out of the same Busch series shop in the '90s.

"It's a neat deal for us to run together after competing against each other in Cup all of these years," Terry said.