Bobby Labonte will be in good equipment again in 2011.
It was announced yesterday that the 2000 NASCAR Cup champion will be headed to JTG Daugherty Racing to take over the #47 Toyota next season. Labonte will take over the ride vacated by Marcos Ambrose.
And with that, Bobby Labonte just became a 2011 Chase contender.
If anybody doubts that Labonte can still drive, think again. It has been 5 years since Labonte was in relatively competitive equipment; back when he drove for Joe Gibbs Racing, in a car that would struggle for the next few years. And even still, Labonte has still contended for victories.
The Texas native nearly won at Martinsville in 2006 while driving for Petty Enterprises in the #43 car. Over the next few years, Labonte showed flashes of speed, particularly on plate tracks. In 2009, Labonte nearly went to Victory Lane at Las Vegas while driving for the now-defunct Yates Racing team.
In 2010, Labonte has driven for a few different teams, spending most of his time in TRG’s #71 car. Labonte has had to start-and-park a few times, but when the team runs a full race, Labonte often gives the underfunded ride fairly consistent runs.
Now that he’ll be back in competitive equipment, Labonte will be hungry to show everybody he can still get the job done. Labonte will be looking for his first Cup win since 2003, as well as make his first-ever Chase.
I think he can do it. Even in sorry equipment, Labonte still runs competitively. Once he gets with a team that has proven it can win, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Bobby Labonte just became a 2011 Chase contender.