MRN Flashback: 1999 Pocono 500
By: MRN Staff on June 4, 2014 | 3:15 P.M. EST
In 1999, Bobby Labonte became the first driver in 13 years to sweep both Sprint Cup Series events at Pocono Raceway. (Photo: ISC Archives)
As NASCAR teams arrived in Pennsylvania for the 1999 Pocono 500, it had been 13 years since a driver swept both events on Pocono Raceway’s triangle-shaped track.
Tim Richmond was the last one to do it before Bobby Labonte tamed "The Tricky Triangle" twice that season. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver got the front end of his Pocono sweep on June 20, 1999.
Labonte kept the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac in front through a late-race restart less than 10 laps from the finish. His margin of victory over runner-up Jeff Gordon was .34 seconds with Dale Jarrett, pole sitter Sterling Marlin and Mark Martin completing the top five.
Rookie Tony Stewart, a teammate of Labonte’s, came home in sixth place.
Labonte led just 27 laps but was strong when it counted most, showing the way for the final 15 trips around the 2.5-mile triangle. Jarrett led a race-high 71 laps en route to his third-place finish.
The race included 22 lead changes among 13 drivers. There were 11 cautions for 46 laps and 17 drivers running on the lead lap with Labonte at the checkered flag.
Labonte returned to Pocono five weeks later with broom in hand and completed the season sweep. Those victories helped propel him to a second-place finish in the final standings, 201 points behind Jarrett.
Labonte would improve by one position the following season to claim the 2000 championship.
The Sprint Cup Series returns to "The Keystone State" this week for Sunday’s 33rd running of the Pocono 400. From 1974 through 2011, events at Pocono Raceway were run at a distance of 500 miles. They were shortened to 400 miles (160 laps) two years ago.
Visit MRN.com on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (ET) to hear the complete broadcast of the 1999 Pocono 500, anchored by Barney Hall and Allen Bestwick. Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – features a classic race each week on "Throwback Thursday" only at MRN.com.