Labonte parts ways with TRG

Andy Lally will make his Sprint Cup oval debut with TRG this weekend at Loudon, filling in for Bobby Labonte who has suddenly parted ways with the squad

Labonte parts ways with TRG

After a disappointing first part of the season in which the California-based team has struggled financially, being forced to become a "start-and-park" squad, it has announced 35-year-old Lally will drive the #71 Chevy at New Hampshire, as the relationship with Labonte came to an abrupt end.

Labonte competed in seven races for TRG last year after starting the season with Hall of Fame Racing.

This season the team had high hopes, but two 21st-place finishes have been the best results thus far, and the team is lacking in resources to be able to even complete the distance in the last few races.

The former Sprint Cup and Nationwide series champion has been entered for Sunday's race at Loudon in Robby Gordon's #7 car, which ranks right ahead of the TRG entry in the owner standings.

"After Infineon we went through some soul searching regarding the direction and goals of our team as we have yet to achieve what we have set out to do this year," said team owner Kevin Buckler. "Bobby [Labonte] is a NASCAR champion and a good guy.

"We figured out after Infineon though, that our relationship had run its course and we both needed to mix it up a little. We may still have Bobby in our car for a few more races this season, but for now we are going in different directions.

"We are a young team in this sport and we are trying very hard to attract a sponsor partner as we have a lot to offer on all of our programmes. We are exploring our options for the Daytona weekend as we plan to race hard at the Coke Zero 400."

Lally, who raced for the team last year at Watkins Glen and competes for TRG in the Grand Am Series in the GT class, has been named as the outfit's driver for this weekend only. It is yet to be determined who will be in the car for next week's event at Daytona.

"I am going at this weekend with the most positive outlook that I can," said Lally. "I am getting a pretty neat opportunity to get some laps in on an oval in a Sprint Cup car on a track that I have never driven. This will be my first time on an oval in a Sprint Cup car.

"Having just one 90-minute practice session before we qualify to acclimate myself with how this car feels and drives with an oval setup on it and 44 other guys on the track at the same time will be pretty tricky. It will be a monumental challenge to be productive. I am going to take it one lap at a time, respect every other driver's space out there and do the best that I can."

Lally's entry into Sunday's race is guaranteed thanks to the team's 33rd place in the owner standings.

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