Bobby Labonte cut ties with TRG Motorsports on Wednesday and will pilot Sprint Cup rides for Robby Gordon Motorsports this weekend at New Hampshire and then Phoenix Racing at Daytona and Chicagoland.
Labonte has driven the No. 71 Chevrolet for TRG Motorsports since November 2009. But the 2000 Sprint Cup champion never finished higher than 21st in 16 starts this year.
Labonte had to start and park in three of the last five races because the team, in its second year of Sprint Cup competition, was unable to secure the sponsorship to run the full length of all races this season, according to a report in Scene Daily.
The story quotes Labonte as saying he did not "want to do the start-and-park thing.”
"I felt like I needed to find different opportunities that were going to allow me to race,” Labonte said.
Labonte believes he has found that with Robby Gordon Motorsports and Phoenix Racing. For the next three Sprint Cup events, both teams plan to run the entire race with Labonte in the driver's seat.
On Sunday, Labonte will helm the No. 7 Toyota in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire in a one-race deal for Robby Gordon Motorsports.
"When we found out that Bobby was available to drive for us, we jumped at it," said team owner Robby Gordon in a press release. "To have a past champion driving your car is a good opportunity. I think we can learn from him this weekend and it will help our program moving forward."
Robby Gordon Motorsports finished second in last weekend's race at Infineon. Labonte hopes to keep up the momentum this weekend.
"We're going to New Hampshire with the goal of having another solid run for his team. ... I'm just thankful for the opportunity and hope to get another solid finish for his team," Labonte said in the release.
Labonte will team with Phoenix Racing in the No. 09 Chevrolet for two events, the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona on July 3 and the LifeLock.com 400 at Chicagoland on July 10. The deal will allow Labonte to run the full race when he makes his 600th career start at Daytona.
"It's good to know that we'll have a past champion in our car for these two races," team owner James Finch said in a prepared statement. "I've known Bobby for a while and he always works hard behind the wheel. This is a good opportunity for us to race for a win."
Phoenix Racing continues to look for sponsorship for both events. The team plans to have Labonte run more races if it can secure funding.
Labonte has 21 victories in 598 Sprint Cup starts. He currently sits 31st in driver points.
PHOTO FROM NASCAR MEDIA