TRINITY, N.C. — Bobby Labonte broke three ribs in a bike riding accident Wednesday near his North Carolina home and will miss this weekend’s NASCAR race in Atlanta.
A spokesman for the driver said Labonte was taken to a hospital by ambulance and will be held overnight for observation.
Labonte was scheduled to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’ll be replaced in the car by Mike Bliss.
Labonte’s consecutive starts streak came to an end earlier this season at 704 races when JTG Daugherty Racing used AJ Allmendinger at Kentucky in June instead of Labonte.
The 2000 NASCAR champion had not missed a start since he began racing full-time in the Cup Series in 1993. He’s won 21 Cup races.
AWKWARD ENDING: Kurt Busch knows he will be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing next year. More important, so does his current team, Furniture Row Racing.
While Busch tries to make a late-season push to qualify for the Chase for the Championship, he must do it with a race team that knows he’s already given up on them. Busch said Monday he signed a multi-year deal to drive a fourth car for a team owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, and that left everyone associated with the No. 78 team feeling a little snubbed.
“It was always our intention to extend Kurt’s contract with Furniture Row Racing,” Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone said. “We made him an offer last week to continue as the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet in 2014 and beyond.
Though he did not accept our offer we respect his decision and wish him future success.”
Furniture Row is more forgiving than others. Crew chief Rodney Childers announced last week he would leave Michael Waltrip’s No. 55 team to work with Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas next year. Waltrip responded by firing Childers on Monday.
Harvick told current car owner Richard Childress earlier this season he wouldn’t return next year. That team not only continued to work through the awkwardness, they will be in the playoffs.
Busch insisted he will be able to work through the mixed emotions to make the most of the final three months.
“We have to stay focused on the present as well as balance the future,” Busch said. “And it’s a tough thing to do. And you hope you could do it behind the scenes, you know, where it’s not out in the public.”