The other day, you read a story on this site in which I mentioned that Bobby Labonte was being replaced by Erik Darnell in the #96 car. That move has triggered a game of musical cars, a game nobody usually likes playing because, in the end, somebody always loses.
Not this time.
For those of you who are not familiar with the initial cause of this whole “game”, let me take you through everything that has happened step-by-step:
Monday: Bobby Labonte is relieved of his driving duties in the #96 Ask.com Ford for 7 of the remaining 12 races. He is replaced by Erik Darnell, a Roush development driver. The story behind this is that Darnell will bring additional sponsorship to the table, something Labonte didn’t have. Labonte will drive the #96 in the other 5 races.
Thursday: Bobby Labonte has a ride, at the expense of David Gilliland. Labonte has been tabbed to drive the #71 Taxslayers.com Chevy in the 7 events that he will not be in the #96, beginning this weekend in Atlanta. On the outside, this appears to be a bad deal for Gilliland, who has driven the car in 22 of this season’s 24 races. Or is it?
Friday: David Gilliland has been tabbed to replace Bill Elliott in the #21 Motorcraft Ford for this weekend’s race in Atlanta. The reason being because Elliott has 3 broken ribs after a dirt bike accident. Elliott is OK, and said he could race, but didn’t want to negatively affect the team’s performance. Gilliland has also been tabbed to drive the #02 Farm Bureau Insurance Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in 3 events this year. According to sources, the Gibbs deal is what freed up Labonte to go to the #71 in the first place.
And now you’re caught up on all of the musical cars stuff. As you can see, everybody knocks somebody out of a ride, until the fourth car at Gibbs opens up. Because that ride opened up, everybody has a place to go.
It is also worth noting that the “game” was triggered by Yates Racing, the team Gilliland was released by a few weeks prior to the season-opening Daytona 500.