Oldies But Goodies

Two former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champions will make their 2005 debut this week at California. Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte are running part-time schedules this season – Elliott for an as-yet-undetermined number of races and Labonte for 10 races.

The 2003 season was Elliott's final full-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season and Labonte announced last year that 2004 would be his last full-time season. Both former champions are cutting back to enjoy family, friends and activities outside racing, but both still enjoy competing.

"I enjoy the racetrack and the facility out there," Elliott said of California. "It's a lot like Michigan, and I like Michigan really well, but it seems like I haven't been able to apply Michigan to California too well. It just seems like it takes something a little bit different than what we've learned at Michigan, and now maybe we've got what it takes."

Elliott is currently slated to run six races with sponsorship from Stanley Tools (California, Texas - spring, Lowe's - fall and Indy) and Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper (Second races at Michigan and Texas) with Evernham this year.

Labonte plans to devote a lot of time to helping his son Justin, who competes full-time in the NASCAR Busch Series. But, like Elliott, he's ready to get back behind the wheel himself now and then.

"I'm excited about it," Labonte said. "I'm looking forward to going to the places we've got scheduled. I picked them all myself. I wanted to visit tracks that were some of my favorites -- places we'd done well at in the past. Next year we might change it up some because there are other tracks where we've had some success. I'm looking forward to the 10 this year."

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