With his 58th birthday a month away (Nov. 16), Terry Labonte will compete in the 890th and potentially final race of his long and storied Sprint Cup career in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
For the fourth time this season, the two-time Cup champ (1984, 1996) will drive the No. 32 Go FAS Ford owned by veteran NASCAR crew chief and NBC Sports TV analyst Frank Stoddard.
The car, sponsored by C&J Energy Services, will have a decidedly retro look to it, reminiscent of the way Labonte’s race car looked in his first career Cup start back in 1978 (at Darlington), nearly 37 years ago, as well as commemorating the look of his first and second Cup championship cars.
Check out the video below of the unique paint scheme:
While Labonte won’t officially utter the “R” word (“retire”), C&J Energy Services founder/CEO Josh Comstock gave an indication of Labonte’s future in a team media release.
“Even in the early days in Corpus Christi, Terry was already a legend,” Comstock said. “His career has been truly phenomenal and C&J is honored to have been part of Terry’s team the last few years.
“From a company standpoint, it was a great association. On a personal level, I am proud to know him. We thank him for giving C&J employees, customers and race fans many thrilling memories. We wish him the best in the future in whatever he decides to do.”
Stoddard also hinted that this may be Labonte’s final Cup race as well.
“Terry was an integral part of FAS Lane Racing for the past several years,” Stoddard said. “He helped the team secure sponsorship with C&J Energy Services in 2010 and it continues today.
“He is an extraordinarily honest man, who has always given 110 percent of himself to this race team. When he gives his word, he honors every commitment he has made.
“He has had a storied career, that has included championships and numerous victories and I am honored to have been a small part of it. I am proud to call him a friend.”
Labonte announced prior to this year’s Daytona 500 that it would be his last start in the Great American Race. And while there are no official ceremonies planned for what may potentially be Labonte’s 61st and last career start at Talladega and potentially in NASCAR racing as a whole, it’s as good of a time as any to commemorate the man and his legend.
Known by the colorful nicknames of “Iceman” and “Texas Terry” (like younger brother Bobby, he hails from Corpus Christi, Texas), the elder Labonte brother gave late Cup team owner Billy Hagan his only championship in 1984.
Labonte then earned the second Cup crown for team owner Rick Hendrick in 1996, one year after Jeff Gordon won his first of four Cup titles in 1995.
Labonte has earned 22 wins, 182 top-five and 361 top-10 finishes in his illustrious career.
He was nominated for the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class but did not receive enough votes. But rest assured that Texas Terry’s spot in the Hall is coming in due time, perhaps for the 2016 class.
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