The NASCAR garage will be without Bobby Labonte this weekend when the Sprint Cup Series competes at Kentucky Speedway.
Labonte had the second-longest active streak with 704 consecutive starts, second only to Jeff Gordon’s 705.
Recently JTG Daugherty Racing made the decision to place A.J. Allmendinger in their No. 47 Toyota Camry for five races this season in place of Labonte. The first race for Allmendinger with JTG occurred at Michigan two weeks ago.
Labonte was given the opportunity to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet of Phoenix Racing at Michigan but spun on lap six. Labonte had car troubles prior to the start of last Sunday’s race at Sonoma and saw his engine fail on the first lap.
Gone are the days of Labonte being a competitor who could win any given week but to not see him at the track at all will be a surprise.
“I will not be racing this week,” Labonte said in a chat on the JTG website. “It is disappointing the way it is happening. I have had a couple of offers this morning, but I have declined them because I don’t want anybody else that has an opportunity to do what I do, what they love, to have to sit on the sideline for my sake.”
Austin Dillon will drive the No. 51 car at Kentucky.
Labonte has not missed a start since he began racing full-time in the Cup Series in 1993. He’s won 21 races and the 2000 championship while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. His best finish this season was 15th in the season opening Daytona 500.
Kentucky will mark the first Cup race without a Labonte in the field since the 1978 season finale at Ontario.
Ricky Rudd holds the NASCAR record of 788 consecutive starts.