Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte ruining their legacies

Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte are future Hall-of-Famers, that is obvious to anyone who has followed NASCAR over the past three and a half decades. They are widley recognized as champions for their on-track accomplishments. However, Elliott and Labonte were more than just phenomenal wheelmen, they were, they are considered the good guys. While Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, and Darrell Waltrip were attracting press by ruffling feathers, Elliott and Labonte were quietly winning races, as well as the hearts of thousands of fans.

Labonte captured the 1984 and 1996 Winston Cup championships while Elliott earned the 1988 championship, as well as the 1985 and 1987 Daytona 500 trophies. These two drivers should be reminiscing their on-track success as they await their NASCAR Hall of Fame enshrinement.

Instead, their good guy qualities is shining through as they are determined to help the little guys. Labonte and Elliott are champions, meaning they own the champion's provisional, all but guaranteeing a spot in the Daytona 500. Labonte, who began competing part-time in 2005, will allow the #32 FASLane Racing team owned by former crew chief Frank Stoddard.

The upstart team debuted in NASCAR in 2011 with a host of drivers, and failed to crack the all-important top 35, which would guarantee a spot in the race. Labonte's champions provision will likely place them in the Great American Race.

Elliott stepped away from full-time competition in 2003 when he was a perennial frontrunner. Many felt that he would ease into full-time retirement after a couple of years of part-time activity. Instead, Elliott has spent several years assisting backmarker teams qualify for races by virtue of his champion's provisional.

This time, he will help guide Joe Nemechek's operation enter the Daytona 500. Nemechek spends most of his race weekends starting and parking, but occasionally he will go for the checkers. He also will field two cars every once in awhile. He was able to recruit Elliott to pilot the No. 97 Toyota for the 2012 Daytona 500. I am assuming by the NEMCO Motorsports report that Elliott is not planning on starting and parking...thank God!

I worry that these two drivers are blemishing their legacy by helping these teams. I mean, I cannot blame Elliott and Labonte for wanting to help the little guys, you got to wonder about their perception when it is time for the voters to consider inducting them into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Personally, I do not think they will be passed up, but their enshrinement is being delayed due to their good-nature.


Anonymous said...

I think Jimmie Johnson would disagree with you on the 2006 champion title...

Anonymous said...

First of all, the FASLane team DID make the top-35 in points, but sold the position to Michael "Buy My Spots" Waltrip. Also, I don't want to seem like an English teacher here, but your article title should read "Are Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte Ruining Their Legacies?".

Anonymous said...

It is true that Elliott has helped out many small teams. They pick him for 2 reasons: Yes, he has the champion's provisional but he can also qualify a car better than most drivers in today's fields. I can only recall once a few years back where he actually had to use the provisional starting spot.

Anonymous said...

Your opinion is noted but as said by another post, Bill Elliott can get everything a car has out of it in qualifying. Maybe this isnt the best route for him but until his son turns 18 and can drive, it is nice to see him out there every now and then, he will be back in July with Wal-Mart as a sponsor, not too bad a sponsor, since you consider him a has been back marker!

Jeremy Dunn said...

Yes Anonymous it 1996 not 2006. Had to correct that. Not sure what happened there.

Yes, Are instead of Is would be grammatically correct.

And no, I never said Elliott was a has been backmarker. I just said the teams he drives for are backmarkers.

Brian said...

Elliott and Labonte are not in it for the little guys. They are in it for themselves, like the almighty dollar!
NASCAR needs to once and for all slam the door in the faces of these panhandlers that drag from track to track just to start & park. They are a disgrace to NASCAR. Both of these drivers are tarnishing their stellar records, and respect they earned over the years. Take a lesson from Harry Gant and Ricky Rudd. When you retire, then for petes sake retire! Are you listening Mark Martin?

53 yr. fan said...

The Champion's provisional is as
outdated as the Top 35 and selling
points. NA$CAR has taken all the
interest out of qualifying day when fans used to show up and tune in. Leave it to Brain Farce
and the Beach Boys to not
recognize this.

Anonymous said...

No they isn't...

Anonymous said...

First, is you a grade school graduate or did you just get passed along even though you could not master basic grammar?

Second, Bill and Terry may be delaying their entry to the HOF, but apparently in keeping with their attitudes throughout their careers, maybe they just don't care that much about being in the spotlight. Contrast that with DW who almost broke down in tears after being bypassed the first time. Class versus arrogance tells.

As far as the PCP, how often has Bill Elliott used it? Very, very rarely. He can still get a crap car qualified and help out a struggling owner by making the field and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Finally, Bill will stay close to the Cup scene until Chase reaches 18 in two years and gets a ride in a NASCAR touring series, probably trucks or Nationwide. Everything Bil does now is for Chase and if you fault a man for working so hard for his son, your priorities are sadly lacking perspective.