Bobby Labonte: It's starting to get embarrassing.

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Bobby Labonte: It's starting to get embarrassing.
John Harrelson/Getty Images

Fifteen Years ago this weekend a young man realized his dream. Bobby Labonte won one of the biggest races of his career at the Coke 600, not a bad way to celebrate his first Winston Cup win. Bobby would go on to win two more races that season (both at Michigan) his first with Joe Gibbs racing, finishing 10th in the series point race. After this season the driver was on fire becoming one of the premiere faces on the circuit. Winning five races in 1999 only elevated him; he finished 2nd in the points that year (losing the championship to Dale Jarrett by 201 points) and was ready to make that championship run in 2000.

2000 would be Bobby’s season not only would he win the Brickyard 400, he would also win his first and only Winston Cup Championship beating the legendary Dale Earnhardt by 265 points. Labonte would win twice in 2001, finishing six in the point standings. This would be a turning point in his career Bobby struggled in 2002 finishing 16th in the points. The driver would come back in the 2003 season, but again struggled in 2004 and 2005.

This is when Bobby felt he needed to make a change. He pleaded and was granted his release from JGR, many including Bobby felt that he could get another shot of glory with another team; unfortunately he made the decision to sign with Petty Enterprises, which had been struggling since the late 90’s. Bobby coming on board was not much better; an 18th place point’s position was all he could do muster up. After the 2008 season he was released from his ride. After singing with Hall of Fame racing in 2009 just for his championship provisionals, he was again released this time while the season was under way.

Now we are back to where we started, the weekend of the Coke 600 and Bobby Labonte is still here. Now racing with TRG Motorsports (a glorified start and park team) 33rd in points, Bobby is a shell of his former self. Even Bill Elliot who is driving in a part time role 2010 is more competitive then Labonte. Bobby could go to the truck series right now and could compete for a championship again (think Johnny Benson). Until that time he will just continue to drive himself into oblivion. A driver that can not give it up and realize it’s time to go. 

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