Back in the Saddle
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong
Bobby Labonte says he wants to keep racing after this season but admits "some dominoes" have to fall to see what his options might be. (Photo: Getty Images)
LOUDON, N.H. - For those doubting Bobby Labonte, questioning if he wants to race after this season, consider what he did to get back in the car after a recent cycling accident that broke three ribs and slightly tore a lung.
He had acupuncture treatments. Now some will think this is no big deal. They’ll note how many do it, maybe even them. They’ll say that someone shouldn’t fret about needles being poked into one’s skin.
Labonte had never had such treatments before.
“I don’t want to do it, either,’’ he said. “You stick the needle all the way to the bone. You could feel it tap the bone.’’
He was poked from his waist to his bruised leg to help aid his recovery after the Aug. 28 accident near his Trinity, N.C. home.
The tear in his lung, Labonte said, was “small, small, small.’’ He was hospitalized overnight after the accident to monitor the lung and released the next day. The ribs weren’t displaced too much, but he said he could feel them clicking at times.
Those injuries caused Labonte to miss the past three races but he’s back at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He qualified 28th for Sunday’s Sylvania 300.
Labonte said he feels fine in the car. It’s out of the car when he still has the most pain. A sneeze can prove painful.
In a season that has not been memorable, it would have been easy for Labonte to take his time to get back into his seat at JTG Daugherty - one he won’t have after this season with his contract not being renewed. AJ Allmendinger, who has filled in for Labonte in five races this year and is scheduled to drive the car in a few more races this season.
Labonte wanted to return quickly. It’s why he endured acupuncture and why he also had laser treatments on his ribs. The 49-year-old former champion, who will be making his 713th career Cup start, also wants to continue racing after this season.
Labonte admits that “some dominoes’’ have to fall to see what his options are for next season.
To people who suggest that Labonte should leave the sport after this season, relish the fine career he’s had - he’s won 21 Sprint Cup races and was the 2000 champion - he says: “They’re not me, I’m not them.
“If you enjoy what you’re doing and you’re able to do it, that’s what you want to do,’’ he said.
Would Labonte take another role in the sport if he wasn’t driving after this season? “Racing is Plan A,’’ he said. “We’ll worry about Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work.’’