AJ Allmendinger will replace Bobby Labonte next week at Michigan International Speedway for JTG Daugherty Racing.
Allmendinger could drive even more Cup races for the struggling race team. Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion, is 28th in the Sprint Cup points standings and hasn’t finished better than 15th in a race.
With the team scuffling along, JTG Daugherty Racing decided it was time for a change in the No. 47 Toyota.
“We’ve kind of gone backward the last three years,” co-owner Brad Daugherty said by phone. “We can’t exactly put a finger on it without being able to benchmark it against a second team. It’s really hard. He’s available, so we thought we’d stick him in there to see if he has a different perspective on what we’re doing and what we’re not doing.”
Allmendinger will likely also race for JTG-Daugherty at Watkins Glen and at three other tracks where the team was currently lacking major sponsorship. Allmendinger has driven a limited NASCAR schedule since being suspended for a failed drug test last year. Roger Penske fired him but gave him another chance in IndyCar. He’s set to drive in two NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season for Penske Racing.
“I have raced for Phoenix Racing some this year and feel confident I’ll be able to provide JTG Daugherty Racing with a good comparison,” Allmendinger said. “I’m thankful for this opportunity to work with the team and Bobby.”
FORMULA ONE: In Montreal, Sebastian Vettel earned pole position for the Canadian Grand Prix for the third consecutive year.
The championship points leader drove the fastest lap in the final qualifying session with a time of 1 minute, 25.425 seconds.
Lewis Hamilton also will be in the front row for Sunday’s race on the 2.71-mile course located on the Ile Notre Dame in Montreal.
Intermittent rain dampened the course and slowed the cars for the last two of the three qualifying sessions. The forecast today called for a low chance of rain.
TORNADO VICTIMS: Two Oklahoma teachers who used their bodies to shield kindergarteners when their school took a direct hit from a tornado were honored at the IndyCar race in Texas.
Jennifer Simonds and Anna “Sam” Canady are both from Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., which was hit by a tornado May 20.
The teachers were at Texas Motor Speedway to give the command for drivers to start their engines before Saturday night’s race.
Simonds, who had never seen or watched a race before, said they don’t see themselves as heroes, and have been overwhelmed by the response from around the world.
The honorary starter is CJ Gillaspie, captain of the West Volunteer Fire Department, which lost five members in a fertilizer plant explosion in the small town April 17.