Bobby Labonte Reveals Big Role Played by Dale Earnhardt Sr. in His Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Deal

Published 03/20/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 4: Dale Earnhardt Sr. & Dale Earnhard, Jr. pose together at the raceway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Earhnardts and Andy Pilgram earned second in the GTS category during the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. (Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)


Bobby Labonte has been in the NASCAR scene since 1991, and has had a long and successful career. This includes winning the 2000 Cup championship. At that time, he was racing for the Joe Gibbs Racing team. In his career, he has amassed 21 wins and got 411 Top 10 finishes, as well as 43 poles. However, it is interesting to note that the late great Dale Earnhardt had a big role in bring Labonte to JGR.

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In conversation with the Dale Jr Download, he opened up on the move. Labonte said, “We were at Rockingham, we’re standing there and talking. Joe walked up, your dad told Joe. He was like, ‘You need to get him to drive this car. You should get him to drive your car’.”

At that point, Labonte felt absolutely honored to earn such praise from the NASCAR legend. Soon, one thing led to another and Labonte found himself in the Joe Gibbs car. Since then, he has been in excellent form, even winning his one and only Cup Series title in 2000.

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Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte have been fierce rivals

The two drivers have often battled against each other. One of their fiercest tussles came at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Labonte’s championship year. Apparently, Dale Sr managed to stave off the #18 car and won the race with a narrow margin of 0.010 seconds.

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Dale Earnhardt, driver of the the #3 Richard Childress Racing Goodwrench Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Monte Carlo spinning out of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series The Winston race on 24 May 1998 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina, United States. (Photo by Craig Jones/Allsport/Getty Images)

It is also noteworthy that Dale Earnhardt struck up a rivalry with Terry Labonte, Bobby’s older brother. Terry himself is a two-time Cup Series champion and a legend in his own right. So, Earnhardt has had the privilege to race against two brothers and even managed to beat them.

Of course, there were some hairy moments between them on a number of occasions. Nevertheless, there was always mutual respect between Dale Earnhardt and the Labonte siblings.

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MORE: WATCH: Dale Earnhardt Defeats Bobby Labonte in One of the Closest Finishes

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Dhruv George

11390 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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