Right now it's a rumor, but apparently a strong one. General Mills, long time sponsor of the 43 Petty Dodge announced it's new affiliation with Richard Childress Racing beginning in 2009. Bobby Labonte has long been rumored to be moving with the sponsor, but that has not been confirmed. Yahoo and ESPN are basically saying it's a done deal, but RCR says that the driver for the 33 General Mills Chevy will be named at a later date.
I would not make any assumptions until Richard Childress makes it official. Scott Wimmer, who runs for RCR in the Nationwide series, and now has a win for RCR in that series, has long been rumored to be headed for the 4th RCR Cup team. Whether that's the plan that Richard Childress has in mind, I don't know. On the face of it, it would make sense to announce the sponsor change so early in the season if the driver was one that was not already under contract until the end of 2008 with another team.
Bobby Labonte brings some obvious pluses to the table as well. He's won quite a few races, and is the 2000 Winston Cup champion, so he will have provisionals to use if need be. Bobby also has a relationship with Richard Childress, having been driving Busch and Nationwide races for RCR for a couple of years now. Bobby Labonte makes sense in a 4th Childress ride.
One question that arose when I read today's news about the sponsorship change was this: Jeff Burton's 31 RCR Chevrolet currently has AT&T as a sponsor through the end of the year. If Sprint is still the series sponsor in 2008, that's going to be a problem once again, just as it was last year. There is going to have to be a new sponsor for the 31 car if Sprint is still the series sponsor, or we will get to see another ugly court case between AT&T, Nascar and Sprint for the right to use the logo on the car and team uniforms.
We know that General Mills will be with the 33 car next year, but remember, there's nothing official about the driver yet, no matter what Yahoo says.