Nascar Biograpy Terry Labonte

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Born November 16, 1956, Terrance Lee Labonte's was quickly introduced to racing by his father who enjoyed working on them as a hobby.

At only 7 years of age, Labonte began racing in quarter-midgets. By the time he was nine, he already had a national championship under his belt. As he grew into his teen years, he moved up to stock cars. He continued on dirt tracks as well as racing on asphalt, but added championships in Houston, and San Antonio from 1975-1977.

In 1978 Labonte made the jump to NASCAR, entering a car at Darlington Raceway. He qualified well on his first attempt, starting 19th on the grid. But his finish of fourth was quite impressive for a rookie on his first attempt.

He started and ran four other races that year, and followed his fourth place finish with two top ten finishes.

1979 was his first full year in the NASCAR, then Winston Cup, and he vied for Rookie of the Year Honors with other NASCAR greats such as Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, and Joe Milikan. Labonte drove his #44 Stratagraph Chevrolet to finish in the top 10 in championship points at the end of the season. Although he garnered 13 top ten finishes during the season, Labonte failed to win Rookie of the Year Honors.

In 1980, Labonte won his first Cup race at the Darlington track during the Labor Day race. That year, he finished sixth in the points all the while earning $222,501 worth of prize money.

The next two years were troublesome for Labonte, as he failed to win a single race. However, he didn't complain as he did stay within the top five in final point standings in both seasons.

He won again in 1983, and won two races in 1984 and clinched his first Winston Cup Championship during the same year.

Darrel Waltrip approached him in 1985 to drive his car in the then Busch series, the minor leagues of NASCAR, where he preformed well.

During the next few season, Labonte raced well, and finished consistently, all the while switching teams twice. However, at the start of the 1990's, Labonte's team was not as strong as he would like, so at the beginning of the 1994 season, he signed with strong house Hendricks Motorsports.

Success followed him to the Hendricks team, where in his first two seasons driving the #5 Kellogg's Chevrolet he won three times in each season. In 1996, Labonte not only broke Richard Petty's consecutive race streak, he won his second Winston Cup Championship. What was the most interesting about his final race that year, was the fact that his younger brother Bobby Labonte won the race, and Terry Labonte wrapped up the championship.

In 1997, Labonte posted an amazing 20 top ten finishes, and won at the Talledega Superspeedway. Over the next two years, Labonte won three more times. Unfortunately in 2000, Labonte's consecutive streak, at 655 races, was broken when he missed two races due to an ear injury he suffered during a previous race.

Labonte's final win was in 2003 at the same track he had won his first race at 23 years earlier. He announced 2004 would be his last full time season, although he still drove part time in the following years.

He has stepped in for Hendricks Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and helped start the Hall of Fame Racing team during their first year in NASCAR racing, Michael Waltrip Racing. But the most interesting fill in job was during the summer of 2008, where he stepped in for 6 races to relieve Kyle Petty in the #45. This is interesting because brother Bobby drives the #43 Petty Racing Machine. During this time Labonte brought the #45 engine home to its best finishes of the season.

He also has been the champion during the 24 Hours of Daytona, the champion of the 12 Hours of Sebring, won three all-star races, the Pole Shootout, two All-Star Challenges, and won a IROC championship. However, his most respectable statistic is his 17 top ten championship finishes, and the act that 25% of the time he finished in the top 5 and 50% of the time he finished in the top 10 in all of his races.

Labonte still drives on a limited basis, but he has mostly retired to the Thomasville area in North Carolina. He lives with his wife Kim, whom he married in May 1978 after meeting at a local car dealership they both worked at during high school. He has two children, Justin Labonte -born 1981- who occasionally drives in the Nationwide series with a win to his credit; and Kristy Labonte -born 1983- who pursed a business degree at High Point University. During his off time, Labonte is an avid fisher and hunter.

Known for his consistency, Labonte was also known for his coolness under pressure. Perhaps that is the reason he was affectionately nicknamed "The IceMan". NASCAR is all the better for the poise and control of the consistent Terry Labonte.

More about this author: Meg A Wright

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