Labonte to the '51' for Michigan

51

Barkdoll said that the deal was only for this weekend’s race Michigan at the moment but he said they’d be interested in having Labonte for other races he would be available. (Photo: Getty Images)

Bobby Labonte will drive for Phoenix Racing this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, the team confirmed Monday.

That also means that Labonte’s consecutive starts streak - third longest in NASCAR Sprint Cup history at 702 races - will continue.

Labonte was looking for a ride this weekend because AJ Allmendinger will be in the No. 47 car, which has been Labonte’s ride since 2011. JTG Daugherty announced last weekend that Allmendinger would drive for the team at Michigan, Watkins Glen and possibly three more races.

Co-owner Brad Daugherty said that the team wanted to have Allmendinger run a few races to help diagnose the team’s struggles this season. Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion, finished 27th Sunday at Pocono, moving up a spot in the points to 27th. His best finish this season is 15th in the season-opening Daytona 500.

This isn’t the first time Labonte and Phoenix Racing have worked together. After Labonte was without a ride in the middle of the 2010 season, he drove 14 races for the team with a best finish of 16th at the July Daytona race that season.

“Bringing a champion in like him is really a good thing for Phoenix Racing,’’ Steve Barkdoll, general manager of Phoenix Racing, told Motor Racing Network. “He helped us and we helped him. It’s nice to have him back in the car.’’

Barkdoll said that the deal was only for this weekend’s race Michigan at the moment but he said they’d be interested in having Labonte for other races he would be available.

Labonte will return to the No. 47 car next week at Sonoma. Jacques Villeneuve will drive for Phoenix Racing at Sonoma. Barkdoll said it looked as if Allmendinger would be back with Phoenix Racing at Kentucky in two weeks. Beyond that, Barkdoll wasn’t sure what the team’s rotating driver lineup would be.

“We’re trying to put the best driver in each week to make ourselves to sponsors and investors,’’ Barkdoll said. “We’re looking for somebody to come in and help with the funding of the team whether it be an investor, buyer or a sponsor.’’

Related Topics:

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