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.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”