MRN Flashback: 1996 NAPA 500

T.Labonte

In November 1996, Terry Labonte and his brother, Bobby, made the season-ending weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway a memorable one. (Photo: ISC Archives)

From 1987-2000, NASCAR held its season-ending Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

And on Nov. 10, 1996, brothers Bobby and Terry Labonte made the finale an event to remember … with one winning the NAPA 500 and the other claiming his second Cup Series championship.

Bobby Labonte started from the pole and drove the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet to his lone victory of the season.  Terry Labonte’s fifth-place finish in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was enough to secure the second title for NASCAR’s "Iron Man," his first one coming 12 years earlier.

Terry Labonte certainly lived up to that nickname in the closing days of the 1996 campaign.  Not only did he stretch his NASCAR record for consecutive races started to 537.  He drove the final two weeks with a broken hand suffered in a practice crash at Phoenix International Raceway, placing third and fifth to put the finishing touches on his championship season.

Bobby Labonte led a race-high 147 laps in driving to victory at AMS.  He beat runner-up Dale Jarrett to the checkered flag by .41 seconds with Jeff Gordon third and Dale Earnhardt fourth.  Terry Labonte led twice for 28 laps en route to his fifth-place finish.

Johnny Benson was the highest-finishing rookie, in 27th place.  The race featured 27 lead changes among 12 drivers, with eight cautions for 47 laps.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway this week for Sunday night’s 54th running of the NAPA 500, known today as the AdvoCare 500.

Visit MotorRacingNetwork.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1996 NAPA 500 from Hampton, Ga., anchored by Barney Hall and Allen Bestwick.  Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will feature a classic race broadcast each week on “Throwback Thursday” throughout the 2013 season at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

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