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Bobby Labonte: He makes the call

  Bobby Labonte: back to Chevrolet (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   Bobby Labonte may not have won much lately; his last NASCAR tour win was back in '03. But he still seems solid at the wheel, and if not a regular front-runner anymore, at least he's a money-man who doesn't tear up equipment.
   And in this era of prima donna race car drivers, Labonte is still just good ol' Bobby.
   Now, after a surprisingly uncompetitive season with Doug Yates, Labonte is moving on, and he just signed a one-year deal with newcomer Kevin Buckler to run his Chevys in 2010.
   Labonte has been running a few races this fall for Buckler, the sports car team owner who has moved over to NASCAR this year. Key to success could be crew chief Slugger Labbe.
   Labonte was under consideration for a ride with Chip Ganassi; however Ganassi's manufacturer's sponsorship deal is still unsettled, it appears. Ganassi still isn't saying much about what brand of cars he'll be running next year. With Labonte out of the Ganassi picture, Ganassi appears to have to decide between Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears for 2010.

I'm happy for Bobby. With

I'm happy for Bobby. With all that mess transpiring from lame duck programs at JGR, Petty/Yates, he needs some stability right now. TRG seems to be stepping up some with the upgraded durability of Childress' engines and chassis. A quality crew chief in Slugger Labbe, just need to build around him like a taliored-made suit. And if you ever wore a tailored-made suit, priceless.

I wonder how was Ganassi's rapoire with McMurray and Mears after leaving the last time? Maybe Chip's the one to say "screw" both of them gimme someone else. It's not like he hasn't done it before.

This is the kind story I love

This is the kind story I love about NASCAR. A new team is trying to break into the sport. This doesn't happen in any other sport. No one can just build a football team and challenge the Green Bay Packers. Buckler's team won't really compete with Jimmy Johnson's team, but they'll be in the race. With hard work, determination, and a lot of luck (and money) they could develop into a true contender.
I also love that an venerable veteran like Bobby Labonte still has a place in the sport. He might have "lost a step" to borrow a phrase, but he can get the job done. He knows what good equipment feels like and how good teams function. He'll provide valuable feedback to Buckler which will help his team grow.
After reading all the stories and opinions about how big teams are running away with NASCAR, it's great to hear about a grass-roots team and a experienced veteran adding some fresh blood to NASCAR.

If only NASCAR could have

If only NASCAR could have turned drivers like Bobby and Terry Labonte into their poster boys ... Maybe it is their Texas heritage, maybe it is the influence of their parents, but Bobby and Terry bring to NASCAR personal class and a public demeanor that should be the role model for the new 20-somethings in the business. I'd rather spend an hour listening to them on any subject, than spend a week with automatrons like Johnson and Gordon. Note to Kevin Buckler: Please don't make Bobby lower himself to a Start-and-Park driver, even though that's quite profitable nowadays.

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