Phoenix Racing has announced that former Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte has landed a ride with the team for the 2014 Daytona 500. Labonte’s addition appears tied to the Daytona entry that former Phoenix owner James Finch mentioned during a recent SiriusXM NASCAR Radio interview.
“James continues to be a valuable part of our team and when he came up with the idea of running Bobby in a second car, I jumped at the opportunity to bring him back into the fold,” said team owner Harry Scott Jr., who ran Labonte at Michigan this past season. “Bobby is a veteran driver that can also provide valuable insight and leadership for Phoenix Racing.”
Labonte, now set for the 22nd Daytona 500 of his career, is also slated to run a number of other select races for Phoenix in 2014. Further details including car number, personnel, and sponsorship will be disclosed at a later date.
“I’m thrilled to be headed back to Daytona with Bobby Labonte,” Finch said. “I thank Harry Scott for this opportunity. He knew I would have to be weaned off racing, I can’t quit cold turkey.”
In 2010, Labonte drove for 14 races in Phoenix’s No. 09 machine back when Finch still controlled the team. This past year, driving Phoenix’s No. 51, he finished 43rd after an early crash at Michigan. Labonte drove the bulk of his 2013 schedule with JTG-Daugherty Racing, earning a top finish of 15th.
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.