As NASCAR fans probably know by now, for the remainder of the season, Bobby Labonte is sharing his seat behind the wheel of the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride with A.J. Allmendinger, especially since Allmendinger has already raced the car once this season. Allmendinger finished 19th earlier this month from inside the No. 47 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Labonte was back in the No. 47 driver’s seat last weekend at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, as Allmendinger focused his attention on Nationwide Series racing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. By the way, that focus paid off, as Allmendinger claimed his first NASCAR win last Saturday at Road America.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand — Allmendinger and Labonte sharing the No. 47. When Allmendinger drove the No. 47 at Michigan, that didn’t put Labonte on the sidelines. Instead, Labonte drove the No. 51 entry for the James Finch-owned Phoenix Racing.
Allmendinger will be back in the No. 47 this weekend for Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. But this time around, Labonte WILL be sidelined.
“I will not be racing this week,” Labonte said. “It is disappointing the way it is happening. I have had a couple offers this morning, but I have declined them, because I don’t want anybody else that has an opportunity to do what I love — what they love — to have to sit on the sidelines for my sake.”
I have to say, that’s mighty big of him. Honestly, in his position, I’m sure I wouldn’t make the same choice. If I had offers, I’m pretty sure I’d, most definitely, take them.
So what’s the big deal here? The end of Labonte’s start streak, that’s what. Labonte’s start of last weekend’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma was his 704th-straight. In case you’re wondering just how far back that take’s us — that streak began with the 1993 Daytona 500. Also worth noting, Jeff Gordon’s running streak of consecutive starts is just one race longer, starting with his Cup debut in the last race of the 1992 season.
But that’s not the only streak that’s going to come to an end this weekend. With older brother Terry Labonte’s lengthy streak of starts that began back in Oct. 1978 and didn’t end until well after the younger Labonte’s streak began, the Kentucky race will be the first Cup race without a Labonte since Terry’s streak began in Oct. 1978.
By the way, retired driver Ricky Rudd holds the record for most consecutive starts with 788.
I guess it is true. All good things must come to an end.
-Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (AutoRcngDaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner