NASCAR: Bobby Labonte replaces brother Terry at GoFAS Racing for superspeedways

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With two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Terry Labonte now officially retired, Go FAS Racing has tabbed another Labonte to replace him.

Bobby Labonte, Terry’s brother and a former Cup champion himself, will drive the No. 32 C&J Energy Solutions Ford in all four superspeedway races next season – the Daytona 500 in February, Talladega 500 in May, Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July, and GEICO 500 at Talladega in October.

GoFAS Racing is co-owned by NASCAR on NBC analyst and longtime Cup crew chief Frank Stoddard, as well as Maine-based businessman Archie St. Hilaire.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to go racing next season with GoFAS Racing and C&J,” Bobby Labonte said in a release. “The people at C&J are good friends of our family, and like me, have a passion for the sport. I want to thank them, along with Frank and Archie for allowing me the opportunity to take over where my brother left off.”

In his own thoughts, Stoddard expressed his confidence that the team can continue to grow with the help of Bobby’s veteran presence.

“…We had an outstanding finish in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona last July with Terry, and we look forward to continuing those strong results with Bobby,” he said. “We have a busy off-season to get ready for 2015, but everyone is excited about what the season holds for us.”

In addition to Labonte, the team plans to run road racing veteran Boris Said for the two Sprint Cup road races at Sonoma and Watkins Glen per the Bangor (Maine) Daily News. Several other young drivers are also being considered to join the team for the other events.

“I would rather have one driver for the whole season but Bobby didn’t want to commit for the whole year and Boris just does road courses,” Archie St. Hilaire explained to the Daily News. “[Having a lot of drivers] works for us, money-wise.”

His son, team general manager Mason St. Hilaire, adds: “We love giving young drivers and their families the chance to live out their dreams. That’s one of the most gratifying parts of the job. And the veteran drivers help us, points-wise, so we can keep going with young drivers.”

The Daily News also reports that Stoddard will serve as Bobby Labonte’s crew chief for the four superspeedway events.

Terry Labonte’s best finish last year for GoFAS was an 11th-place effort in the Coke Zero 400. He decided to hang up his helmet following a 33rd-place finish in the fall at Talladega.

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”