Robert Alan "Bobby" Labonte ( born May 8, 1964 in Corpus Christi, Texas) is an American NASCAR driver. He drives in the NASCAR Sprint Cup 2011 season with the # 47 JTG Daugherty Racing and most recently for the 2008 Chevrolet Monte Carlo with the start number 21 in the Nationwide Series for Richard Childress Racing.
As of 2007, Labonte is the only driver who could both win the championship in the Cup series as well as in the Busch Series. He also won the title in the International Race of Champions in 2001. His older brother, Terry Labonte was also a prominent NASCAR driver. Until his retirement at the end of the 2006 season, he won the championship twice. The two Labonte brothers are the only pair of brothers, each of which bore the title in the Cup series. Bobby Labonte is also the uncle of Justin Labonte, who was successful in the Busch Series.
Bobby Labonte started racing in 1969 when he raced in so-called Quarter Midgets in Texas. His first race he won a year later. This race car he remained faithful to the year 1977 and went up to that race in the U.S., of which he finished many as the winner. In 1978 he moved to karting and moved the family to North Carolina when his brother Terry joined the Cup series of NASCAR. After Labonte took in various racing leagues, he made his debut in 1982 at the Martinsville Speedway in the Busch Grand National Series. At his debut race he reached the 30th place. After graduating from Trinity High School, he worked on the race car of his brother at Hagan Racing. In 1985, Labonte returned for two races with a private car in the Busch Series back and drove both races at Martinsville. His best result was a 17th place. In the following season, he scored his first pole position in the Busch Grand National Series, and reached a second place at Road Atlanta.
In 1987, Labonte won twelve races at the Speedway Caraway and thus won the track championship. Besides, he was still working for Jay Hedgecock. In the following season he stepped on the Concord Motorsports Park and won six times there. He also ran six more races in the Busch Series with a 16th place at the Darlington Raceway as the best result. Two additional top- 10 finishes completed the season.
In 1990, Bobby Labonte drove the first full season in the Busch Series with his own Oldsmobile with the start number 44 He achieved two pole positions he scored both at the Bristol Motor Speedway, and finished the season in fourth place in the championship. He also won the award as the most popular driver. In the 1991 season he won his first race at Bristol and another race at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. At the end of the season he emerged as the champion of the series. In addition, he also went for two races in the Cup Series at Dover International Speedway and Michigan International Speedway at the start, in which he finished 34th and 38th. In 1992, he won three races in the Busch Series at the Lanier Raceway, Hickory Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, was defeated in the championship but Joe Nemechek with a gap of three points.
In the 1994 season, Labonte went on in the Cup series and for the Ford Thunderbird with the # 22 Bill Davis Racing for. In his rookie season as he won the pole at Richmond International Raceway, scoring two top-10 results and was at the end of 19th in the championship. In the race for the title of Rookie of the year he lost to Jeff Gordon. In the season of 1995, Labonte not improved in the championship, won the championship in the Busch Series, but as the owner of the car, with the David Green was launched.
Towards the end of the 1994 season, Labonte moved the team to take over the # 18 Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing. His first victory in the new team was the Coca- Cola 600 in season 1995. Moreover, he won both races at Michigan Speedway and in the 1996 season, the season finale at Atlanta, in which his brother Terry secured the championship.
In the 1997 season, Labonte joined the manufacturer and was driving a Pontiac Grand Prix. This season, he again won the season finale at Atlanta. The following season, 1998, he scored the pole position for the Daytona 500 and came behind Dale Earnhardt finished second. A short time later he won the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway, and then won again in Atlanta. In the race of the season at Daytona International Speedway, the Pepsi 400, Labonte scored the pole position again.
In the 1999 season, Labonte won a total of five times as often as in any other season. In the championship he finished second behind Dale Jarrett with a backlog of more than 200 points. Apart from that he suffered during the season to a broken shoulder, which he on the Darlington Raceway drew upon in qualifying for a race in the Busch Series, but went two days later in a Cup race at the start. However, he had passed at the first caution period to Matt Kenseth, who finished the race at the end of the car. In the 2000 season, Labonte won four times at the races in Darlington, Charlotte, and both races at Pocono Raceway. He was the first rider to win both races in Pocono. At the end of the year he secured the championship before Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Burton.
In 2001, Labonte won two races in Atlanta and Pocono and finished the season in sixth place in the championship. In the 2002 season he scored only a single win in the spring race at Martinsville, his first on this track. With the 16th place in the championship, he was for the first time since the 1998 season, not among the top 10. In the 2003 season, it was again better for Labonte and after his victories in Atlanta and Homestead he finished the championship in eighth. Particularly, he started the season with three consecutive second places.
In the 2004 season, Labonte was the first time since 1994 without a win and finished it in twelfth in the championship. The downward trend continued in the following season and after only four top - five results, he fell out of the top 20 of the championship. In addition to the Cup Series, he went for the first time in some races in the Craftsman Truck Series at the start, where he won at Martinsville. In addition, he went on a 24- hour race at Daytona at the start, in which he gave the race car with his brother Terry, Jan Magnussen and Bryan Herta shared. At the end of a disappointing season for him, he asked Joe Gibbs to be allowed to leave the team. This agreed and since the 2006 season, Labonte drives for Petty Enterprises the car with starting number 43
In the 2006 season he moved to Petty Enterprises. In his first season in car No. 43 reached Labonte three top - five and eight top-10 results. The season he finished as the 21st in the Championship, three places higher than in the 2005 season. Labonte in the 2007 season started with a 21st place at the Daytona 500 and won a race of the Busch Series at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2007. This he won for the first time since 1998, again a race in the Busch Series.
After the 2008 season Labontes contract has expired with Petty Enterprises for the Sprint Cup; He was first taken for the 2009 season with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in conjunction, but eventually signed a contract with Hall of Fame Racing for the season.