The NASCAR world may have moved on from the Coca-Cola 600, but Thursday, May 28 marks 20 years since one of the biggest triumphs on one of the grandest stages. Charlotte was the site for Bobby Labonte’s first Sprint Cup victory in the longest race of the season.
Just a year after Jeff Gordon won his first race during the Coke 600, Labonte torched the field in the final laps to pull out the checkered flag. There wasn’t a wildly interesting finish to the race as Labonte lapped cars on the way to the start-finish line, but his celebration was a long time coming.
Though he hadn’t reached Victory Lane up to that point, Labonte had the sponsorship spiel down pat. Five years later, he would win the 2000 championship to solidify himself as one of the best drivers in NASCAR history.
Finishing with 21 Sprint Cup wins, he was just one behind his now Hall of Fame brother Terry Labonte. He’s also one title behind him, so only time will tell if he can meet him in the Hall. But on that night, after 600 miles and over four years of waiting, Bobby started a new chapter in the Labonte legacy.
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