NASCAR legend and 2000 Winston (now-Sprint) Cup champion Boby Labonte is returning to the driver’s seat for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. He’ll be behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet for Circle Sport.
“When Joe Falk called me and told me that they were rebuilding the pole-winning car from Talladega and that they had secured an ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing) engine, I felt this was an opportunity to get back on the track in a competitive ride,” Labonte said. “They’re willing to put the investment into building the operation, and as a former NASCAR driver-owner, I can appreciate that. And they’ve experienced a high level of success at the superspeedway events this season, so I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a race car this weekend at Daytona.”
Qualifying for the Coke Zero 400 is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. ET on Friday, weather permitting (thunderstorms are in the forecast), and may be seen on FOX Sports 1. The No. 33 is locked into the race field. The race is scheduled to take the green flag shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, with live TV coverage on TNT.
Labonte has 43-career starts at Daytona, resulting in a pair of runner-up finishes. The car he’ll be driving this weekend won the pole at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the other restrictor plate track on the schedule, earlier this season.
“Everything came together rather quickly,” car owner Joe Falk said. “We were able to acquire the pole-winning car at Talladega and secured a superspeedway engine package from ECR. Bobby and I talked earlier this season about driving the No. 33 in a few races, and we were able to finalize the deal last week. Bobby’s a champion on and off the race track, and we’re excited to add another chapter to our short history with Bobby and (sponsor) Thunder Coal this weekend at Daytona.”
Labonte already has one start in 2014, also coming at Daytona in the season-opening Daytona 500. In that race he drove a James Finch-owned No. 52 to a 15th-place finish.