ATLANTA -- As far as Terry Labonte is concerned, blood is thicker than motor oil.
That's why he has no problem admitting he followed younger brother Bobby for miles and miles at the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway to help Bobby in his quest to win the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship.
''I figured he might need those three or four points more than I did,'' the elder Labonte said.
Bobby Labonte doesn't need much help from here on out. With only three races remaining, he has a 201-point lead. And if he maintains the cushion after races at Phoenix, Homestead, Fla., and Atlanta, he will become the first brother of a former champion to win stock car racing's biggest prize.
Winning championships in NASCAR this year has been a matter of bloodlines. Not only are the Labontes about to carve their niche into the sport's history, but so are the Green brothers. Jeff Green will clinch the NASCAR Busch Series Championship on Sunday at the Sam's Town 250 at the Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park if he simply makes the starting lineup. That will give the family its second Busch Series title since older brother David won it in 1994.
Terry Labonte won two Winston Cup Championships, the first in 1984, the second in 1996. More than anyone else, he knows exactly what his younger brother faces in the final month of the season and beyond.
''He doesn't have any need to race any differently,'' Terry Labonte said. ''I never had the luxury of having a big point lead like he does the two times I won it. When you have a points lead like that, there's really no point in racing any different. He has the luxury to go at it. He needs to do the same things that got him there.
''I think he's going to be a great champion. He's a good guy. It's hard to stay on top. Look at Dale Jarrett. He's the defending champion, and Rockingham (last Sunday) was just his second win. It's so hard to stay on top. You'll see guys have a run every now and then, and win a couple of them. But when you're on top, everybody's shooting at you.''
Not only will Bobby Labonte be the first brother of a former champion to win the Winston Cup title, but he also will become the first driver to win championships in both of NASCAR's top divisions the Busch Series (in 1991) and Winston Cup.
''There is no doubt that racing for the Busch championship is helping out with being a contender for the Winston Cup championship this year,'' Bobby Labonte said. ''It would be neat to be able to accomplish both of them. We're working real hard toward it. I know back in '91 it was exciting, and this is no different.
''Our goal, of course, has always been to win a Winston Cup championship. With Terry having done that a couple of times, I definitely want to be able to put my name up there with his and a lot of other guys'.''
The Greens are just as eager to do their part.
''It's really the opportunity of a lifetime,'' Jeff Green said. ''I've been telling everybody all year that the focus of this race team is to win races, and the championship will be our bonus. The closer the championship gets, the more we're getting excited about it. It just puts you in a whole different class.''
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