BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 13, 2012) – – This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series invades Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 where Bobby Labonte has three top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
The fast .533-mile concrete oval with 36 degree banking is special to the No. 47 Clorox Toyota Camry driver because it is where he captured his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory that put him on the map in 1991.
“I enjoy racing at Bristol and the place has special meaning to me because it is where I won my first Nationwide race,” Labonte said. “This weekend, it’s going to be all about who uses tires the least or doesn’t wear them out. That’s why I’m looking forward to it. As a team, I feel like we can go up there and run good. It’s a track where anything can happen.”
Labonte places a lot of emphasis on his crew chief Todd Berrier in making JTG Daugherty Racing successful. The team finished 13th at Bristol last March and looks to improve upon the finish Sunday with Berrier’s guidance.
“The key to this whole thing is Todd Berrier with his experience and winning, he is a winner, that’s going to help us out,” said Labonte. “I can’t do it myself, he can’t do it himself, our engineers can’t do it themselves — all of us together, hopefully we can excel more at a place like that than some other places. I’m still very excited about each time we get on the race track, our learning curve is pretty sharp — we’re learning a lot quick about each other and I think that goes well and says a lot for our race team. I’m really looking forward to being back at Bristol.”
Not only is Bristol an extraordinary track for the 2000 champion, his JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Jodi Tate Geschickter is quite fond of the place herself. Geschickter hails from Knoxville, Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Education with honors. Like Labonte, the year 1991 was significant for her. It was the year she married Tad Geschickter and not long after they started the team JTG Daugherty Racing. Although her parents have owned Knoxville’s Tate’s School for over 40 years, she chose a far different path.
“We both worked two jobs to make it happen,” said Jodi Geschickter. “I worked as a flight attendant for 10 years and six of those years I pulled double-duty. I worked in the office Monday through Thursday and would fly with the airline on the weekends. In 1999, I left US Airways to work for the team full-time.”
Geschickter has worn many hats over the years at JTG Daugherty Racing and continues to do so.
“I’ve held so many different roles over the years,” Geschickter said. “I’ve scheduled and booked travel, developed licensed products for sponsors, handled team uniforms, managed logo integrity for sponsors on soft goods, worked on health insurance policies, human resources, vehicle insurance, arranged hospitality and charity events, handled credentials/pit passes, managed at track staffing/vehicles, scheduled show cars, managed and worked our souvenir trailer.
“We’re looking forward to our first Cup win and have been very close,” Geschickter added. “Our first win in NASCAR was at Bristol and my family lives in Knoxville. Tad and I met in Knoxville, so racing in Bristol, in the hills of Tennessee, feels like coming home.”
Live coverage of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on FOX begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX.