Bobby Labonte set for last ride in No. 47 at Phoenix this weekend

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Bobby Labonte’s tough season with JTG Daugherty Racing comes to end this Sunday in the penultimate round of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The 2000 series champion will make his final start with the team at Phoenix International Raceway, after he joined JTG prior to the 2011 season.

Labonte, 49, has missed races for the first time in his career after an extended start streak of more than 700 races came to an end in July. Adding injury to insult, Labonte also missed time due to broken ribs.

In 27 races, Labonte does not have a top-10 finish. A 15th-place result at the Daytona 500, the season opener, is his best result of the year and one of only four top-20 finishes.

He ranks 35th in the points standings, and if he fails to score a top-10 this Sunday in Phoenix, it will mark the second year of his 20-plus year NASCAR career where he’ll have failed to crack the top-10 (2010, and finished 31st in points).

“The last two years the team went out on their own,” Labonte said in a statement. “It was without support from being a part of a big organization and that has been tough. The choice they made to go out on their own I supported. They needed to go in that direction. The battle was still to get the team in position to go forward. We went through the trenches together to get there. At the end of the day, I was a part of the puzzle where I got to help put the pieces together where the puzzle did not fall apart. I always woke up everyday and put my best foot forward.”

The team’s 2014 driver, AJ Allmendinger, will take the reins of the No. 47 at Homestead for the season finale.

MRTI: pre-season testing Day 3 notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Day 3 of pre-season testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway saw the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda continue testing for the second day in a row, with each series completing three sessions on what was their final day of running.

Quick reports on both series are below.

Pro Mazda: Cunha Surges to the Front

While Saturday saw Pro Mazda newcomers like Oliver Askew, Parker Thompson, and Rinus VeeKey lead the way, Sunday saw a pair of second-year Pro Mazda drivers take their turns at the top of the speed charts. In the combined results, Juncos Racing’s Carlos Cunha turned the fastest lap of the final session, also good enough to be the outright fastest lap of the weekend, taking advantage of a fresh set of Cooper Tires to do so.

“I’m really happy, Juncos Racing is an amazing team,” Cunha said of the team’s performance. “On track, we are always improving, never going backwards and that’s very good. We have tested a lot but we still need to learn a lot about the car, though we are almost to a perfect setup. The team has given me everything I need to be comfortable inside the car, to know what the car needs, and to know what I need to be a better driver. We have time to improve and we are moving forward quickly.”

Fellow sophomore driver Sting Ray Robb, now with Team Pelfrey, was right behind Cunha in second.

Combined results across both Saturday and Sunday can be found here.

USF2000: Kirkwood, Cape Motorsports Stay On Top of Deep USF2000 Field

New Cape Motorsports driver Kyle Kirkwood, who topped Session 2 on Saturday, stayed on top of the combined speed charts across the weekend on the strength of his best lap from Session 3 of the weekend on Saturday.

Pabst Racing’s Rasmus Lindh was right behind Kirkwood, on the strength of his quick lap from Session 1.

However, Sunday’s running saw a different driver assert his authority, with Kaylen Frederick, Lindh’s teammate at Pabst, turning the fastest lap during the final session.

Frederick ended up fourth in the combined results, which can be viewed here.

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires will take to the Homestead-Miami road course on Monday for the final day of testing for the Mazda Road to Indy.

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