By Erica Renee Davis
Special for FOX Sports
The legend of North Wilkesboro is folklore no more as, after 27 years, NASCAR Cup Series racing returns to the beloved track this weekend. However, before its decades-long hiatus, some of the sport’s most elite drivers took laps at this 0.625-mile oval. NASCAR Hall of Famer and former Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte was one of them.
“It’s unique because nobody who runs today has ever raced at North Wilkesboro. And I’ve always been excited to be there, even though it wasn’t my best track,” laughed Labonte. “It’s also great that this speedway weekend is one and done for the year, so drivers won’t be able to use it to practice for the next one.”
And Bobby warns that things are about to get interesting as NASCAR fans and viewers descend on rural North Carolina to witness the likes of Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch square off for the All-Star Race on FS1.
“There’s a bit of a drop, so the guys are going to have to manage the tyres. It’s going to come down to who shows the most adaptability. You might see a guy give up a bit at the start. [of the race] but then this same guy might be better in the end.”
A dynamic part of the FOX Sports broadcast team as an analyst, Bobby Labonte is arguably one of NASCAR’s all-time greats. His 21 Cup wins, including the crown jewels Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400 and Southern 500, make him one of the most decorated athletes in the sport. He even took his talents across the pond and became the first American NASCAR champion to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Labonte describes his experiences traveling and competing in different countries while competing internationally as an “absolute blast” and admits he would like to do it again.
Always a keen competitor, it was the same fervor that Bobby brought to his professional life that helped him overcome the health challenges he faced post-racing in his personal life.
“Anytime that [like a diagnosis] it scares you and takes you out of your comfort zone, it changes your perspective,” he reflected. some of it could just be me getting old!”
Looking back on his accomplishments, the 2020 Hall of Famer noticed one thing that would change.
“Winning the championship in 2000 was the most surprising thing. But I would have liked to have enjoyed the season more,” acknowledged Labonte. “Coach Gibbs told me it’s not about winning it’s about the journey to get there. I should have taken notes or kept a journal or something. So I wouldn’t change winning, but I I wish I could change my mentality.”
So which current drivers make Bobby’s list of favorites? Well, Kyle Larson and Erik Jones make the cut, but there’s also a wild card that Labonte likes.
“I’m a fan of Ross Chastain, even though I know a lot of people aren’t.”
And according to Labonte, Chastain’s future is bright.
“He can win multiple races every year and championships Yes he can just clean up some of his aggression and clean up his act. He’s going to be a star.”
Will this weekend’s All-Star Race be the time to win? It certainly could be if you try your luck at FOX Bet Super 6.
FOX Bet Super 6 is a free contest where you can pick six different NASCAR All-Star Race Contest results with North Wilkesboro Speedway to win by Clint Bowyer $5,000. You just have to download the FOX Bet Super 6 App on your phone or mobile device, make your picks and submit your selections before the race starts this Sunday.
Remember, playing FOX Bet Super 6 is always free, easy and fun. And by the way, really people to win!
Before you rush to make your picks for the All-Star Race on FS1, check out Bobby’s picks below.
Which of these previous All-Star race winners will finish in the best position?
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott
“You know, I’m going to throw this out there. I think it’s Kyle Busch. I think a lot of these guys can adapt, and I have reason to believe that Harvick could or even Chase Elliott because of the experience of the late model. .
“But I think Kyle Busch is that guy who could star this weekend at a track that nobody has raced at in years.”
Prediction: Kyle Busch
At 100 laps, which manufacturer, Chevrolet or Ford, will have more cars in the top 20, and how many
1-3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 or more
“I’m going to say Chevrolet. Right now they’re on top, and that’s the case until I’m proven otherwise. I also think Chevrolet will have the top. hand on this kind of track.”
Prediction: Chevrolet, 5
Which of these controllers – Erik Jones or Bubba Wallace — will he have the fastest lap at the end of the 100 laps and how many caution laps will there be?
0-5, 6-8, 9-10, 11-13, 14-15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20+
“I think Bubba Wallace will have the fastest lap between him and Erik Jones. As for the yellows, I don’t think there are many.”
Prediction: Bubba Wallace, 18
What will be the biggest challenges the drivers will face at North Wilkesboro Speedway?
The “NASCAR Race Hub” crew shared how the driver’s ability to maintain traction on the racetrack will be the biggest challenge at North Wilkesboro.
Which team, Joe Gibbs Racing or Stewart-Haas Racing, will have the most laps led at the end of the race and how many laps will they lead?
1-13, 14-20, 21-26, 27-33, 34-40, 41-47, 48-54, 55-61, 62-66, 67+
“I think Kevin Harvick will lead here.”
Prediction: Stewart-Haas Racing, 21-26
Which driver – Tyler Reddick or Brad Keselowski — will he have the best finish at the end of the race and by how many positions?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-10, 11-14, 15 or more
“Tyler Reddick. He has the ability to adapt. Experience pays, but I think Tyler will have an open mind to adapt on this track., and that will help him be faster than Brad.”
Prediction: Tyler Reddick, 7 years old
Which driver – Chase Briscoe or William Byron — will he have the best finish at the end of the race and by how many positions?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-10, 11-14, 15 or more
“William Byron. He’s on a roll. He’s got the late model, and he seems to have all the confidence right now. And getting a win last weekend will give him even more confidence going into this weekend.”
Prediction: William Byron, 11-14
‘It’s frustrating’: Kyle Larson finished 20th after wrecking Ross Chastain with 6 laps to go
Kyle Larson sat down with the “NASCAR Race Hub” crew and discussed the wreck involving Ross Chastain at Darlington.
When it comes to advice for drivers nearing the end of their careers, Labonte insisted that Kevin Harvick is one to emulate.
“You can look at him as an example of someone who has done it better than anyone else,” Bobby said as he praised the veteran driver for successfully managing a long career. “He’s taken care of himself and remained competitive. However, everyone, for the most part, wishes he had waited a little longer or done it a little sooner.
“But you really have to listen to what’s on your mind, don’t let anything outside influence your decision to walk away and really figure out what you want your legacy to be.”
Could your legacy include winning $5,000 this weekend? It could be if you get in on the FOX Bet Super 6 action right now and try your hand at Clint’s money for the All-Star Race with North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Download the FOX Bet Super 6 app and submit your All-Star picks. Then be sure to share your picks with us by tagging us @FOXSuper6 i @EricaReneeD and using the hashtag #EricaSuper6 on all social media platforms.
Download the FOX Super 6 app for a chance to win thousands of dollars on the biggest sporting events every week! Just choose your picks and you could win the grand prize. Download and play today!
Get more from the NASCAR Cup Series Follow your favorites for information on games, news and more