Veteran driver Bobby Labonte will attempt to make his 22nd Daytona 500 in February driving for Phoenix Racing, the team announced Tuesday. No car number or crew chief has been confirmed but Labonte will be eligible for a past champions provisional if he needs to do so due to his 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
The team also announced that Labonte will also run "additional races" for the team in 2014. Labonte was out of a ride for the first time in his Sprint Cup career this offseason and there was a lot of thought that Labonte may not have anything lined up for 2014. That was until long time car owner James Finch came calling to put the former champion behind the wheel of a second car for Phoenix Racing.
"I am grateful and excited to return to Daytona with Phoenix Racing,” said Labonte. “The Daytona 500 is obviously a special event for everyone involved in the sport. I can’t wait to get back in the car for my 22nd Daytona 500.”
In Labonte's previous 21 starts in the Daytona 500 his best finish was a runner-up finish back in 1998 when he finished second to the late Dale Earnhardt. Labonte has three top ten finishes in The Great American Race including a fourth place finish back in 2011 with JTG Daugherty Racing.
If Labonte makes the 500 that means there will be a Labonte in the Daytona 500 for a 36th straight season. Co-owner Harry Scott Jr commented on the situation.
"James continues to be a valuable part of our team and when he came up with the idea of running Bobby in a second car, I jumped at the opportunity to bring him back into the fold,” said Harry Scott Jr., who purchased the team from Finch in 2013. “Bobby is a veteran driver that can also provide valuable insight and leadership for Phoenix Racing.”
James Finch put the second car together and will still be a crucial part of the race team.
The team announced that additional information about the deal will be announced in the coming weeks.
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