Former NASCAR champion and Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Labonte will compete full-time in the SMART Modified Tour in 2021.
Labonte, who won the NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2000, will race for Team 25 the entirety of the 10-race season. Labonte is partnered with Cook Out, a southern fast-food chain that is known for its large, diverse menu and its shakes.
In 2019, Labonte made a start at Bowman Gray Stadium and competed last fall in a SMART-sanctioned exhibition race at Florence Motor Speedway in South Carolina where he set a new track record in qualifying and led several laps early before ultimately finishing fourth.
“The race in Florence was awesome and everyone with Team 25 is top-notch,” Labonte said in a press release. “I really like the way the car is put together and the way the team operates. The experience at Florence got me thinking and talking with the team, and we decided to do this together for the 2021 season.”
Labonte’s full-time NASCAR Cup Series career ended in 2013 with 21 career wins and 203 top-10 finishes. However, Labonte has since raced in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series where he has 15 starts and a podium finish. He has also remained active on iRacing, like many races, during the coronavirus pandemic prior to his start at Florence last November, and he’s looking forward to returning to full-time racing in the United States in 2021.
“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the 25 car again, and I’m thrilled to partner with Cook Out to take on the SMART Modified Tour,” Labonte remarked. “I’ve got a great-looking car, a sponsor that I truly enjoy and a terrific team. This is just about perfect and we’re excited to go out there, race hard and have some fun along the way.”
Team 25, which is headed up by Mike Smith, is excited about having Labonte on-board.
“We’re so excited that Bobby is going to drive the 25 car for us,” Mike “Andretti” Smith of Team 25 said in a team press release. “We’ve been doing this for many years, so to sit here today looking forward to a season of working with the 2000 NASCAR Cup Champion makes this something really special.”
SMART Modified Tour director Chris Williams is also thrilled to have Labonte join the series, saying, “Bobby is doing this out of his passion for motorsports and his love for modified racing.”
Labonte brings star power to the recently relaunched SMART Modified Tour which has plenty of momentum heading into 2021 after a thrilling race at Florence last fall and a diverse season schedule.
“Bobby’s participation will be great for the series and the competition,” Williams continued. “He exudes blue-collar racing, and we are here for the grassroots fan. Modifieds are the talk of the town right now and this is going to take the sport to the next level. I know Bobby’s goal is to be competitive and win, but he’s going to have a lot of fun, too.”
The SMART Modified Tour is tentatively set to kick off its 2021 season at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina on March 14th and then head to Florence Motor Speedway a week later. The series will also race at South Boston Speedway, Dominion Raceway and Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia, Dillon Motor Speedway in South Carolina, and Carteret County Speedway and Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina.