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Austin Dillon greets fans after winning the pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide race Saturday at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. The race was postponed because of rain.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
LONG POND, Pa. - 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."
Daugherty said the team hasn't given up on Labonte.
"Hopefully, this will help Bobby moving forward," Daugherty said. "We're putting Bobby back in the car. This isn't an unseating of Bobby Labonte. We just want to figure out why we're struggling so badly. We believe he's going to embrace it. He's a competitor like anybody else. He doesn't want to get out of the race. But it's the best thing for the team."
Labonte was 29th in the points standings in his first year with the team in 2011 and 23rd last year. He has 21 wins in 703 career cup starts. He'll make his 702nd consecutive start Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
But it's not enough to keep a full-time ride.
"We think we're building better race cars," Daugherty said. "We've got to get stronger in the engine department. We're behind."
Chase Elliott wins ARCA race at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. - Chase Elliott has won the ARCA Racing Series race Saturday at Pocono Raceway.
The 17-year-old Elliott is the son of 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott. He became the youngest ever winner in ARCA.
Elliott took a major step Wednesday when he tested an ARCA car at Pocono. He took advantage of an ARCA Racing Series rule change that allows 17-year-olds to drive at both Pocono Raceway and Kentucky Speedway this year as long as they complete a test and meet other requirements by the series.
His familiarity paid off in a big way on Saturday. Elliott held off fellow 17-year-old driver Erik Jones for the win. Points leader Frank Kimmel, a true old-timer at 51, was third.
Bill Elliott won five times at Pocono in the Cup series.
Rain forces Nationwide race postponement
NEWTON, Iowa - The NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway has been postponed until 11 a.m. today because of rain.
The race was set to begin at 7 p.m. Saturday night, but rain began falling about 40 minutes before the scheduled start.
Workers were nearly finished drying the track before it started to rain again, forcing officials to push the race back a day.
Austin Dillon will start first after winning the pole for the third week in a row, followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Brian Scott and Brian Vickers.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall