HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Bobby Labonte drove his last race of the year – and perhaps his career – last Sunday at the Phoenix International Raceway. Will Jeff Burton, Mark Martin and Ken Schrader do the same this Sunday?
Schrader, 58, already said the Ford EcoBoost 400 will be his last NASCAR race. Martin, 54, still refuses to use the word “retirement,” but he admits he’s about to take a new direction in his career as a research, development driver and mentor at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Labonte, 49, is out of his ride at JTG Daugherty Racing and Burton, 46, has lost his job at Richard Childress Racing. “Well it means I’m getting old I guess, that is primarily what it means,” Burton said. “I’ve been really blessed to do it for as long as I’ve done it ... When I was 7 years old I wanted to be a race car driver. I’m 46 and I’m a race car driver. I’ve just been really blessed.”
The four have combined to win 86 Sprint Cup races. Labonte also won a Nationwide and Sprint Cup championship.
“I don’t know that they’ll ever get their just rewards for what they’ve contributed,” NASCAR president Mike Helton said last week.
PIT STOPS: Two weeks after Darrell Wallace Jr. became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR race in 50 years, Erik Jones, 17, became the youngest driver in NASCAR history by winning the truck series race at Phoenix.
... The amount of steel being installed in the Daytona International Speedway’s $400 million overhaul is equal to one percent of the steel produced in the U.S. each year.