AJ Allmendinger will take over driving duties for Bobby Labonte in JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 47 for five races this season, to offer a fresh opinion. The goal is to refine the team’s direction as it develops its Gen-6 Camrys.
Allmendinger will replace Labonte in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Team co-owner Tad Geschickter clarified:
We’re not replacing Bobby he’s still our driver. But we have a few races that we don’t have any sponsor activation and it was pretty easy to do (a change and) some benchmarking. The big issue for a single-car team, how else do you benchmark for your car? And, Michigan is the only one set in stone (for a change). Bobby will be back in the car at Sonoma. It is just a good opportunity for us to verify what Bobby thinks the main issue is.
I have raced for Phoenix Racing some this year and feel confident I’ll be able to provide JTG Daugherty Racing with a good comparison. I’m thankful for this opportunity to work with the team and Bobby.
With Allmendinger taking over Labonte’s ride, Labonte’s streak of 702 consecutive starts was in jeopardy of ending. But, Phoenix Racing General Manager Steve Barkdoll confirmed that Labonte’s streak will continue, as he will pilot the team’s No. 51 Chevy in the Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan.
We helped keep his streak going back then and he helped us because were able to get some sponsors with him driving for us. … Everything can change but we wanted to help keep Bobby’s streak going.
Labonte drove 14 races for Phoenix back in 2010, when his contract with TRG Motorsports ended mid-season.
For his part, Labonte expressed his gratitude:
[Phoenix Racing owner] James [Finch] has always been one of the first to reach out to offer help in a situation like this. I enjoy racing with Nick Harrison, Steve Barkdoll and the entire group of guys. I’m looking forward to this weekend. A few years back you didn’t have the opportunity like this, but now there are lots of talented drivers that can do one-offs and things like that.