With no plans announced for 2014 and not being scheduled to run at Homestead in two weeks, Sunday’s race at Phoenix could be the last race for Bobby Labonte in the Sprint Cup Series.
It has been a rough 2013 season for the 22-year Sprint Cup veteran. His consecutive races started streak was broken when JTG-Daugherty Racing decided to put AJ Almmendinger in the #47 Toyota for a few races. Add to that he broke a few ribs during a bicycle accident, which meant more races missed.
There have been no rumors as to where Labonte could end up next season at any NASCAR level. If he does stick around the Sprint Cup Series, it would probably be in a start and park effort or very underfunded team. With that in mind, I could see him dipping down to the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series for the next season. Or it wouldn’t be that farfetched to see him walk away, although comments earlier in the season indicated he was not done racing.
As the 2013 season comes to a close we might see many veterans run their last races. Ken Schrader has already announced he will no longer compete in the Sprint Cup Series after Homestead. Mark Martin and Jeff Burton have yet to announce 2014 plans, although Burton is thought to be running at least a partial schedule next season in preparation of retirement in 2015. Martin is a wildcard who has run a partial schedule the past two years and could just drive off into the sunset once and for all.
The world of NASCAR is definitely changing and a new guard of drivers will have step up to assume the veteran roles that are leaving us this season.