WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — NASCAR legend Bobby Labonte is returning to racing this weekend at Bowman Gray Stadium, and this race presents new challenges for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductee.
"Obviously it's something different than I've done before on a track like that, but I think that after the few practice sessions, I got pretty excited about it, so looking forward to going back," Labonte told WFMY News 2 on Friday.
Labonte will compete in the Twin 50-Lap race at Bowman Gray Stadium, also known as "The Madhouse." Gates open at 6 p.m. Saturday and the first 50-lap modified race starts at 8:45 p.m.
Located in Winston-Salem, Bowman Gray Stadium features a quarter-mile short track and is undergoing millions of dollars in renovations. It's NASCAR's first weekly track since 1949 with a rich racing history.
This is Labonte's first-ever modified race, and he will be driving the No. 36 Alliance Insurance Services open-wheeled modified car. He is the first-ever NASCAR driver to win a championship in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and in the NASCAR Cup Series.
"I just always saw it from afar," said Labonte. "After driving it, I was like, 'This is a lot of fun, why didn't I do this a long time ago?' So I'm looking forward to it because of that, and I've never raced one before in my life so we will see how that goes."
Labonte said he has been to Bowman Gray stadium to practice a couple times ahead of the race, running about 40 laps.
"The competition up there is fierce," said Labonte, "This is pretty much far away from my realm of racing... But I'm looking forward to tomorrow, looking forward to getting to the track, getting some practice in. I'm sure this will be exciting for me, I'm looking forward to it."
Labonte thanked the Meyers Family for the opportunity to drive the No. 36 Alliance Insurance Services open-wheeled modified car.
He is set to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2020.