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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

If start and park is only option, Labonte should retire

There’s a time when you have to stop doing what you love, and that usually happens when the negatives outweigh the positives at your job.
After seeing him start-and-park last weekend at Dover, that time may have come for Bobby Labonte.

The TRG Motorsports team has only partial sponsorship for the season, and Dover was the first time this season they decided to go the start-and-park route.

"We're still looking for partners," team executive vice president Tortey Galida said prior to the race at Dover Sunday. "TaxSlayer has been a great partner for us this year but they're not on for the full season. We're getting to the point where we've got to be strategic with how we use our resources and continue to run as well as we can and attract more sponsorship. We've had tons of leads, lots of great meetings but just haven't been able to close [with] anybody. We think we're close on a couple of things. We're at a point now where we've got to start [getting sponsors] pretty quickly."

It’s one thing for a young guy like Michael McDowell to start-and-park as he waits for something better to come along.

But for a great driver like Bobby Labonte, who put on a championship performance in 1999 while driving for Joe Gibbs, it just doesn’t feel right.

In almost two decades in the Cup series, Labonte has racked up 21 wins, 114 top-5s, and 199 top-10s. After numbers like that, I don’t see how he can be content running part of a race then driving to the garage.

While I don’t like the idea of start-and-park teams, I don’t begrudge TRG for doing what it has to do to survive. I just don’t like the idea of someone of Labonte’s caliber being involved.

From my view, if the sponsorship woes continue, Labonte should either try to find a new ride with a team that will run the whole race each week … or just stop racing.

I know it’s hard for these guys to give up their sport … Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip and others held on for far too long.

If the situation doesn’t improve at TRG, and no other ride is available, maybe it’s time Labonte avoid that same mistake and calls it a career.

His overall numbers are very impressive, and he’s one of the few who can call themselves a Cup champion, so there’s no need to tarnish his legacy by start-and-parking each week.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want him to get a compeditive ride. The TRG team has had flashed of promise, 'Dega for one, and there have been a few others. I wish Childress or Stewart could find room for him...
-Conor form MS

May 18, 2010 at 5:57 PM 

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