Labonte Set For Final Run
Southern California can be considered one of the Nation's ideal locations for utopian weather. What better way to enjoy your Labor Day weekend than having some fun under the sun at Auto Club Speedway for the SONY HD 500?
Two time Cup Series champion Terry Labonte enjoys when the circuit heads to Southern California. "I always liked going to the area and the weather is beautiful," he said. "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. I had the opportunity to pick my races this year and California was definitely going to be on my list."
Auto Club Speedway is conveniently located in the heart of Southern California, with close access to some of California's most popular beaches, and only an hour east of Hollywood, the home of movie magic. One thing that should spark the interest and excitement of those planning to visit Auto Club Speedway for the holiday weekend is the new redesigned Midway. Complete with a restaurant - Apex by Wolfgang Puck, concert stage, town center and shade and water features, the Midway will nearly double in size and is set to make its grand opening on Labor Day weekend!
As Labonte's final career laps are quickly turning to their end, and the realization is beginning to set in, he admits there has been a change in attitude. No doubt that Labonte has every intention of running well in every race but, "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."
When Labonte hits the track at Auto Club Speedway, the Race to the Chase will be at full throttle and the competitors will be gunning for their second to last chance to make it into the top 10 for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
After announcing his intent to cut back following the 2004 season, Labonte decided he would race on a limited schedule - 20 races split evenly for Hendrick Motorsports over his final two seasons - as the ideal way to transition from full time racing in NASCAR's top division. September marks Labonte's final race in California, and his fourth to the last race of his career with Hendrick Motorsports.
Auto Club Speedway has always been a special track for Labonte. "We've had some pretty good runs," he 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." Labonte placed two Auto Club Speedway events on his "Shifting Gears-Lone Star Style Tour", the 2005 Auto Club 500 and the upcoming Labor Day (2006) SONY HD 500.
For the past 10 seasons, Labonte has accumulated some impressive statistics at Auto Club Speedway. Prior to his "Shifting Gears Tour" he held the record for the most competitive miles and, of the 11 races he has participated in at Auto Club Speedway, he holds two career top 5 finishes and four top 10 finishes.
Just because he is shifting gears does not mean that he is not competitive. Labonte started in the 37th position at Infineon Raceway, a couple weeks ago and finished third, leading 17 laps.
Make sure you are at Auto Club Speedway in September to watch the checkers flow for Labonte a.k.a the "Ironman"! Tickets are on sale now and start as low as $55. Pre-race pit passes and Party Zone is a great addition for the ultimate race weekend experience. For more information, call 800-944-RACE  or log on to
now and start as low as $55. Pre-race pit passes and Party Zone is a great addition for the ultimate race weekend experience. For more information, call 800-944-RACE  or log on towww.californiaspeedway.