Several permanent driver changes won’t take place until 2014 but at least one – AJ Allmendinger taking the wheel of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota – already is paying dividends.
Allmendinger, running selected events in the No. 47 since mid-season, posted the team’s first top-10 finish of the year last month at Watkins Glen International. A last-minute substitute for regular driver Bobby Labonte, who broke three ribs in a bicycle accident on the eve of last week’s race in Atlanta, Allmendinger finished 14th – another solid effort for the single-car team.
Allmendinger is signed for two additional races in 2013 – at Kansas and Homestead-Miami speedways – although Labonte’s status in the coming weeks could expand the Allmendinger-JTG schedule.
Atlanta’s weekend also saw 21-year-old Kyle Larson, the current NASCAR Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader, officially announced as the driver of the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet next season. Larson isn’t expected to drive an EGR entry in the remaining races but the Drive for Diversity graduate, open-wheel star and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner could appear in selected NASCAR Sprint Cup events for another team.
EGR’s current driver Juan Pablo Montoya qualified the No. 42 Chevy third in Atlanta then led the AdvoCare 500 and finished seventh. Teammate Jamie McMurray ran among the top 10 for much of the race before finishing 11th in the No. 1 Chevrolet.