Labonte Wins Winston Cup

ByABC News
November 13, 2000, 3:14 PM

H O M E S T E A D, Fla., Nov. 13 -- Bobby Labonte shook the huge bottle, thensent champagne spraying on his car, his crew, his wife and thechampionship trophy he had just won.

In seconds, the champagne was gone. The smile on Labontes face lasted a lot longer.

Labonte clinched his first Winston Cup Series title with afourth-place finish Sunday in the Pennzoil 400. He took a victorylap with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart, who won the race for the second straight year.

Our group is a quiet group, but thats as good a celebration as Ive seen, said Gibbs, who coached the Washington Redskins to the 1983, 1988 and 1992 Super Bowl titles.

Because Labonte led two laps, he needed only a sixth-placefinish in the next-to-last race of the year to capture the title,which was worth $3 million.

I was hoping it was going to happen, but you never know until its over, the Texan said. We had a great year, a great run. Its pretty great to beat the guys we beat. Its just awesome.

Someone reminded Labonte that Dale Jarrett shed tears when heclinched the Winston Cup championship at Homestead last year.

I aint crying, Labonte said. Did you see that check?

Stewart Again Wins Race, Not Cup

He started third and spent most of the day running fourth toeighth, often more than half a lap behind Stewart. The steadyperformance was typical of Labonte, who earned his 18th top-fivefinish this year.

For the second year in a row, Stewart won the race but sharedthe applause. Last year it was with Jarrett; this time it was witha teammate.

Its a great day for Joe Gibbs Racing, said Stewart, who led 166 of the 267 laps. For Bobby to win the championship, I couldnt be prouder of him.

Gibbs was doubly proud about the way the race turned out.

I held my breath, he said. I didnt know you could do that for 30 laps.