Labonte Out Of Petty Enterprises

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Bobby Labonte has been released by Petty Enterprises and is now looking for a 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride which could lead him to the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team.

Petty Enterprises is reportedly close to a deal to sell some or part of the company to Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

But faced without a sponsor for its flagship No. 43 ride after General Mills departed for Richard Childress Racing, PE decided to end its relationship with Labonte.

“In over 15 years of racing in the Sprint Cup Series, I can’t remember a time when the sport’s landscape looks as it does today," Labonte said. "Saying that, Petty Enterprises and I had serious and very sincere discussions about what was best for myself and everyone involved at Petty Enterprises moving forward. These discussions culminated with us agreeing that moving in a separate direction will be the greatest way to reach our end goals. It was by no means an easy decision.

“I am, and will always be, very appreciative of what Richard Petty and the Petty family, every employee of Petty Enterprises and members of Boston Ventures did to invest in bettering my career the past three seasons.

“Moving forward, I’m very anxious to prepare for the 2009 season. I do not currently have a contract with any other team for 2009, but I am ready to explore all opportunities and form the next partnership in my career. I’ll continue to keep these matters private and will make the appropriate announcement and comments when my future plans are confirmed. I appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

Labonte has 21 Sprint Cup wins, 197 top-10 and 113 top-five finishes in his career. He has only raced for four different team owners in his career including his family's operation.

Speculation now is focused on Labonte possibly moving to the empty No. 41 entry at Earnhardt-Ganassi.

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