Last Daytona 500 for Terry Labonte
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on February 20, 2014 | 11:19 P.M. EST
Terry Labonte will make his 32nd and final Daytona 500 start Sunday. (Photo: Getty Images)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte said Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be his final start in this race.
This will be Labonte’s 32nd Daytona 500 start. He’s never won the race but finished second in 1986, ’90 and ’97. Labonte will fall one start short of the record for this race. Dave Marcis started 33 Daytona 500s.
Labonte, 57, said he plans to run the remaining three restrictor-plate races and maybe a few others this season for car owner Frankie Stoddard’s Go Fas Racing.
Labonte is scheduled to start 24th Sunday. He finished 12th in the second of two Budweiser Duel races Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Labonte worried that he might not get another chance to run in this race after a slow pit stop when the team’s fueler struggled to connect the can. That caused Labonte to lose the draft and fall outside a transfer spot.
“We were done then,’’ Labonte said.
His fortune changed by avoiding the last-lap, nine-car crash. He also was helped by Casey Mears running out of fuel at the end.
“Thank goodness we made the race,’’ Labonte said.
Labonte said he’s certain this will be his final Daytona 500.
“I still love it,’’ he said. “I’ve been dragging this retirement out for about seven years.’’
Labonte admits he told Stoddard that last year’s Daytona 500 would be his final one.
“I told him I really mean it this time,’’ Labonte said.