Bobby Labonte is a NASCAR driver, currently racing in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series. He is currently the only driver to win both the NASCAR Winston Cup championship (2000) and the NASCAR Busch Series championship (1991). He also won the IROC title in 2001.
Robert Alan Labonte was born in Corpus Christi, Texas. His older brother, Terry, is also a prominent NASCAR driver.
He is the only driver to win both a Busch Series and Cup Series championship. He is also part of the only brother combination, along with two-time champ Terry Labonte, to win Cup titles.
Labonte began driving competitively at age 5 in Quarter-Midgets and in 1978 was racing go-karts. But his family was on the move to North Carolina in 1979 as Terry began his first full year on the Cup circuit.
Labonte didn't race regularly again until 1987, but he was never far from the track. He worked at his brother's shop in 1982 and was part of Terry's 1984 Cup championship team.
After Terry Labonte left Hagan Racing following the 1986 season, Bobby Labonte was fired and hooked on with car builder Jay Hedgecock in '87, when he began working on his own car. That year he won the Late Model track championship at Caraway (N.C.) Speedway with 12 victories in 23 races.
Labonte actually made his NASCAR debut in 1982, running 26th in the second of three Busch races that year at Martinsville. He started two Busch races in '85 and six in '88 before he began showing signs of success.
In 1989 Labonte recorded one top-five and three top-10s in seven Busch starts, and the next year he was racing the circuit full time. He finished fourth in the final point standings in '90, posting six top-fives and 17 top-10s in 31 races.
In 1991 Labonte picked up his first career victory, at Bristol -- the first of two wins that year -- and went on to win the Busch Series title. He had 10 top-fives and 21 top-10s. Also that year he made his first two Cup starts.
Labonte won three Busch races in 1992 with 13 top-fives and 19 top-10s, but lost the title by three points to Joe Nemechek. It remains the smallest points differential in Busch Series history.
In 1993 Labonte ran his first full Cup season for owner Bill Davis, who chose Labonte to drive his car after Jeff Gordon had left his Busch team the previous year. Labonte finished second to Gordon for rookie of the year honors.
It wasn't until 1995, when Labonte moved to Joe Gibbs Racing, that his career began to flourish. From 1995-2003 Labonte finished in the top 10 in points seven times, winning all 21 of his career races during that time span and the 2000 championship.
Labonte's first victory came in May 1995 at Charlotte, the first of three wins that season. In '99 Labonte reached career highs in victories (five), top-fives (23), top-10s (26) and poles (five) in 34 races to finish second in points.
The following year Labonte became one of only two drivers that season not to have a DNF en route to winning the title. He had four wins, 19 top-fives and 24 top-10s in 2000.
During the mid 1990s he was diagnosed with Graves Disease. Graves Disease is a thyroid disorder characterised by an enlarged thyroid gland, sometimes detectable as a swelling in the neck, a protuberance of one or both eyes and a thickening of the skin, described as "orange peel", usually found on the lower extremities.
After back-to-back winless campaigns, Labonte and Gibbs parted ways at the end of 2005.
In 2006, Bobby joined Petty Enterprises, scoring three top-five and eight top-10 finishes for the Cheerios Dodge, included a third at the Martinsville Speedway. He ended up finishing 21st in the points.
Bobby began the 2007 season with a 21st place finish in the Daytona 500, avoiding the many accidents that marred the race. Bobby won the Busch series race at Talladega Speedway in April 2007, his 1st Busch series win since 1998.