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Great runs by Gilliland, Labonte go unnoticed

By admin | February 21, 2011

By Richard Allen


After almost every other Daytona 500 the runs turned in by drivers David Gilliland and Bobby Labonte would have garnered a fair share of attention. However, every other Daytona 500 has not been won by a 20 year old making only his second career Sprint Cup Series start.

So, unfortunately for these two veteran campaigners there was little talk of their efforts despite having finished in the top-5 of the biggest race of the year.

Gilliland, driving for Front Row Motorsports, ran a relatively quiet race. For the most part he kept his car out of trouble and lurking in contention as he logged laps toward the finish.

After the race’s second and final attempt at a green/white/checkered restart, Gilliland locked his #34 machine to the rear bumper of Carl Edwards’ car and the two Fords roared to the front of the pack. Eventually, the Riverside, California native sailed across the finish line in 3rd place just behind Trevor Bayne and Edwards.

Gilliland competed in 32 Sprint Cup events last year without posting a single top-10 finish. Needless to say, this is a welcome start for this driver and team whose best finish in 2010 was a pair of 19th place efforts.

Had it not been for Bayne’s victory, Gilliland would no doubt have been the surprise story of the race.

Labonte came into the Daytona 500 making his first start for JTG-Daugherty Racing. The 2000 Sprint Cup champion survived a less than stellar 2010 campaign in which he drove for multiple teams and failed to place in the top-10 even once.

Over the course of a career that has seen him compile 21 Sprint Cup victories, this proved to be only his second top-5 in this most prestigious of NASCAR races.

Like Gilliland, Labonte went largely unnoticed throughout a day that saw several top contenders eliminated by crashes or mechanical failures. However, with the checkered lag in sight the Texas native placed his Toyota just behind Bayne and pushed the rookie toward his eventual victory. As the cars approached the finish line, both Edwards and Gilliland were able to get around Labonte’s #47 and just beat him to the line.

These are two drivers did exactly what needed to be done to give themselves an opportunity at a good finish. But with the way the race played out, they will have to settle for internal satisfaction.

For my story on east Tennessean Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 win please visit

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4 Responses to “Great runs by Gilliland, Labonte go unnoticed”

  1. dowzier28 Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Thanks Rich! David needs sponsors too! Those guys did what they needed to do so that they could be there at the end. Oh yeah I like the sound of Daytona Champion. Let’s make a restrictor plate champion, like you used to do the Winston Million.

  2. Joe W. Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I kept wondering why they were not interviewing David Gilliland and Bobby Labonte after the race. They had great runs and it was Front Row racing’s first top five. I think Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers deserved all the acclaim they got but they could have taken a minute to interview David and Bobby instead of Jr. and Kyle Busch. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

  3. SRQ Mike Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I no longer bother to be annoyed by the bush (sic) league coverage of mass media who are only capable of focusing on the same five themes over and over: Jr, Mikey, Shrub, Jr, DE, Danica. When they started to show the post race interview with Jr, I switched channels. The media panders to the same narrow but large group of fans. This preaching to the choir will not build the sport, and po’s the smaller but strong group of fans who support racing performance. It’s like ESPN cannot for the life of them not mention the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL related show. Simply pathetic pandering to the idol worshipers.

  4. Steve Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Gotta agree with SRQMike. If it isn’t one of the favorites, FOX will not notice them. All you had to know about the professionalism of DW is at the end of the broadcast holding a blank piece of paper saying this is Bayne’s fact sheet. HUH?

    Aren’t these guys supposed to do research on all the drivers in the race so they have something to say if that driver does well? The only way to shut DW and Larry up is to show a no name driver. They obviously doesn’t do his homework so they has nothing to say, which is why they only focus on “the chosen ones”.