It was announced yesterday that veteran driver and past champion Bobby Labonte will not be in his number 96 Ask.com Ford for 7 of the remaining races in 2009.
Bobby will be replaced by 26 year old Erik Darnell for these 7 races. Erik as 11 starts in NASCAR's Nationwide series and has 2 top 10 finishes this year. Erick has 2 wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in his career as well.
Erik Darnell has managed to put together some sponsorship deals with Academy Sports and Outdoors and Northern Tools and Equipment for his seven race deal in the 96 car.
"This is a move that should be beneficial to Yates Racing surviving this difficult economic time," Bobby Labonte said. "Of course I'm disappointed that the sponsorship environment is so challenging right now, but I intend to make the most out of the remaining races that I'm behind the wheel for Ask.com, DLP, and Hall of Fame Racing."
Hall of Fame Racing would like to keep Bobby Labonte as its Sprint Cup driver in 2010, according to team co-owner Tom Garfinkle. Ask.com has been the primary sponsor of the 96 Ford for all but seven of the remaining races in 2009. Garfinkle said that discussions are still taking place with Ask.com for sponsorship options in 2010, though it is doubtful that the team will be affiliated with Yates Racing next year.
Bobby Labonte has started 568 consecutive Cup races and has won 21 Cup races, including the Cup championship in 2000. Labonte has also won 10 Nationwide series races, including the championship in 1991. Bobby Labonte has also won a Camping World Truck Series race in 2005 and an IROC championship in 2001.
Sources: Jayski.com, SceneDaily.com, Yates Racing PR, Racing-Reference.Info.com