There’s an old racing superstition about the color green in NASCAR, that if your racecar is green, it’s certain to bring you or your race team bad luck. So as it usually is during this time of year, the color green is more visible with it being close to St. Patrick’s Day.
But when it came to Bobby Labonte, even an old racing tale couldn’t stop him and his green-colored car, the No. 18 Interstate Batteries machine out of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, from dominating at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, has won six times at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the most of any active driver.
Without question, Labonte has seen more success on Atlanta’s high banks than at any other track. He has six victories at Atlanta, twice as many times as he has won anywhere else.
Labonte was especially hard to beat at Atlanta during a stretch from the fall race of 1996 to the end of 1999. In seven races, Labonte won four times and finished in the top five on two other occasions. Aside from an engine failure in the 1998 fall event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Labonte strung together a rather impressive finishing average of 1.4.
The final of Labonte’s six Atlanta wins came in the spring of 2003.
Two races, which Labonte didn’t win, remain memorable. One is the 2000 Cracker Barrel 500, in which Labonte was beaten in a photo-finish by Dale Earnhardt Sr. in what turned out to be his final Atlanta win. There was also a fifth-place finish in the 2000 Napa 500, on a day where Labonte was crowned as that season’s Cup champion.
Icons of NASCAR such as Labonte, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart will all be back at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend for night racing’s return to the same track that Labonte dominated. It’ll be the biggest Labor Day Party in the USA and you don’t want to miss it!