|SOURCE: NASCAR Media|
The finish was Labonte’s fourth in the event, leading all drivers in that statistic. In doing so, Labonte finished last in the Unlimited in consecutive years, following his Lap 2 exit in the #32 last year. Labonte is the only driver to have accomplished this, and in fact he's done it twice: he also trailed the Unlimited in 2005 and 2006. No other driver has finished last in consecutive runnings of this event.
This season, Labonte has rejoined the #32 team with which he’s competed on a limited basis since 2011, but now with new partial ownership. Last December, it was announced that team owner Frankie Stoddard would enter into a joint venture, combining the efforts of Stoddard’s FAS Lane Racing team with Go Green Racing, owned by Archie St. Hilaire. Both would continue to campaign the #32 for the full season, using Stoddard’s shop and new crew chief hire Dan Stillman. The combined team is now known as Go FAS Racing.
FOX Sports 1 reported Saturday that the Go FAS Racing #32 is expected to be shared beween Labonte, Timmy Hill, and Jeffery Earnhardt. Ken Schrader, who also shared the ride through 2013, retired from Cup competition after last November’s Homestead finale, where he finished 34th in his 763rd career start.
On Friday, during practice for the Unlimited, Labonte was just 17th fastest of the 18 drivers in the first session, then slipped to the slowest of the 15 who ran in Happy Hour with a lap nearly two seconds off the pace. On Saturday, his Daytona 500 car turned in the 42nd-fastest time of 49 cars during the first session, then improved to 39th in the second session.
For the first time in the history of the Unlimited, the starting lineup to Saturday’s race was determined by a fan vote. 41% of fans selected final practice speeds over two other options: career poles and the 2013 standings. Thus, Labonte’s 15th-fastest time on Friday put him 15th on the grid.
After just one lap, however, Labonte pulled behind the wall, ending his night. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Jimmie Johnson, involved in a single-car crash on Lap 28, plus Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Kurt Busch, three of the seven cars eliminated in grinding crash in the tri-oval on Lap 36. In all, just eight of the eighteen starters finished the race.
This week, Labonte will attempt to make the field for the Daytona 500, a win that has eluded him in 31 previous attempts. Labonte has twice finished 2nd in the event in 1990 and 1997. He also has dark horse potential for next week’s 500: in his three previous runs driving the #32 in the event, he has finished no worse than 20th with a best finish of 15th in 2011.
*Labonte is the first last-place finisher of the Unlimited to have the listed reason out as “parked.” In Labonte’s three other last-place finishes, however, he has either withdrawn before the start of the race or pulled behind the wall in the early stages.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
18) #32-Terry Labonte / 1 lap / parked
17) #48-Jimmie Johnson / 28 laps / crash
16) #10-Danica Patrick / 35 laps / crash
15) #17-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 35 laps / crash
14) #41-Kurt Busch / 35 laps / crash