Bobby Labonte, the first NASCAR Cup Series champion of the 2000s after holding off runner-up Dale Earnhardt for the 2000 crown, is the latest addition to NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list.
The Corpus Christi, Texas, native won 21 times in the Cup Series, riding a four-win season to his first premier series title in 2000 just a season removed from a career-high five victories and runner-up standings finish to Dale Jarrett.
Labonte, a 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, won multiple races in a season six different times (1995, ’98, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’03) as one of the mainstays of the series across full-time or near-full-time seasons spanning from 1993 to 2013, with an additional three seasons of primarily superspeedway racing tacked on at the end through 2016.
The Texan’s first victory came behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet in the 1995 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, adding more crown jewel victories later in his career with a Brickyard 400 win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Southern 500 win at Darlington Raceway during his championship run. His final win came in the final race of 2003, when he led only the final lap in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
While all of his Cup wins came with JGR, Labonte also had the honor of driving the famous No. 43 Richard Petty-owned ride and later on the No. 47 JTG Daughterty Racing car during his final full-time seasons.
A success in all three of NASCAR’s national series, Labonte was the first of six drivers to win both an Xfinity Series and premier series championship, with an Xfinity title in 1991 complementing his Cup trophy. At the time of his 2020 induction, Labonte was also one of 41 drivers in history to win a race in all three national series, collecting 10 Xfinity victories and finally cracking through in the Craftsman Truck Series for his first win there in 2005 at Martinsville Speedway.
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Labonte’s career was intricately tied to older brother Terry, a Cup Series legend and Hall of Famer in his own right – and an original member of this list. The two combined for three Cup Series titles, becoming the first pair of brothers to each own a premier series title, an accomplishment since earned by the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle.