Ambrose departure leads to stability for Bobby Labonte
Sure, he’ll bounce around for the rest of the year, but it’s clear he hopes to continue racing for a while, and the announcement that Marcos Ambrose will leave the #47 JTG Daugherty team (and likely head to Richard Petty Motorsports to take over the #9 ride from Kasey Kahne.)
This is the best news Labonte has heard in a long time. He’s been a hard-luck case for the past few years, since he left the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car several years back. The former champ has become a backmarker, and he wants that to end.
Labonte seemed eager to get involved with the team, which he says can be competitive, and is eager for next season to begin.
"JTG Daugherty Racing is a solid race team that has come close to winning races with Marcos Ambrose and I'm looking forward to developing our new partnership in 2011," Labonte said. "The team is thriving and their technical alliance with MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) is intact. It's great to have next year already set in stone so when this season ends we can begin focusing on next year right away. Everything is in place and we have all the right ingredients to win races together."
The best case scenario for Labonte is that he and his new team rediscover some of the magic that the team found in 2009, when Marcos made some strides and became more competitive on a regular basis.
I don’t see Labonte becoming a contender to win races anytime soon in this new ride, but at least he probably won’t be in the position where he’s start-and-parking … the all-time low he reached earlier this year.
Labonte is a talented driver, though obviously past his prime, so I’m glad he has landed somewhere that’s halfway decent, as it gives him back some of the credibility that he had lost with his recent bouncing from team to team and start-and-parking. Newer fans are amazed when I tell them Labonte used to run up front and compete for championships.
This is probably his last best chance to get back some glory, so he better hope it turns out decent or he may end up back in the disappointing situation where he has been in for most of 2010.
I wish him luck, as it’s never an easy road trying to move back toward the top.
Petty honored at Chrysler event
Last weekend, a king was honored in Auburn Hills, as Richard Petty was among the honorees at the inaugural Walter P. Chrysler Legacy Gala Honors (others honored were Lee Iacocca, Jay Leno and Virgil Exner). The sold-out event drew more than 570 guests, and more than a million bucks were raised for the nonprofit Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, which aims to preserve the history of the Chrysler brand.
Petty won quite a few races in a Chrysler vehicle and no doubt boosted the brand’s popularity in the process, so the honor was very deserving. Also, one of the items auctioned off to a lucky fan at the event was “A Day With Richard Petty”.
For additional information about the Museum, please visit www.wpchryslermuseum.org.
MIS gives fans chance to drive on the track
If you’re a race fan in Michigan and want to give Michigan International Speedway a try, the track is giving members of the public a chance to drive on the two-mile track. The track -- in Brooklyn, Mich. -- is charging $25 for three laps around the track. Drivers will have to keep their cars under 70 miles per hour, but will be allowed to drive up the high banks. Public access to the track is offered now through Aug. 2-4, Aug. 6 and Aug. 23-25.
For more details, visit www.mispeedway.com/Articles/2010/07/Track-Laps.aspx
Fiesta to pace MIS race
The new Fiesta is getting a lot of hype this year, and now it will get a showcase in front of more than 100,000 fans at MIS in a couple weeks.
The new Fiesta pace car for this August’s MIS race was unveiled this week at the Henry Ford Museum by Ford NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth..
“When we got a chance to drive the Fiesta in June before the first Michigan race, I was really impressed with it,” said Kenseth. “It’s a fun car to drive, with great handling, and you can’t beat the fuel economy or technology. I can’t wait to see how it looks on the track. I hope I get a real close view of it at the race, because that will mean we’re running at the front.”
Edwards: Gateway leaving schedule is ‘heartbreaking’
Fresh off a controversial finish at Gateway, news came that the track won’t request to run a race next year, in part due to lack of ticket sales. Carl Edwards, who is from Missouri, considers Gateway his home track and says he can’t understand why it’s a not more popular destination.
“That’s sad, to me. I know it’s very frustrating for all of us that, for some reason, we haven’t had the success there fan-wise and attendance-wise that we want,” Edwards said. “I remember one of truck races I was in where trucks were sliding down the back straightaway sideways and we had six green-white-checkered restarts – one of the most dramatic finishes ever – and we’ve had some really dramatic Nationwide races, but I’m not smart enough to understand why that track wouldn’t succeed. It is a little heartbreaking. I like racing there a lot.”