Labonte to replace Waltrip in Indianapolis


CORNELIUS, N.C. (AP) – Terry Labonte will replace Michael Waltrip in next week’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Labonte, a two-time NASCAR champion, will drive the No. 55 Toyota and be assured of a spot in the field based on his status as a former champion.

Waltrip has struggled to make races this season, his first as a full-time owner and driver. He’s qualified for just four of 19 events, and has turned to Labonte to get a car in the field.

Labonte drove the No. 55 for Waltrip in Sonoma, Calif., and finished 35th on the road course.

He’s also scheduled to drive next month at Watkins Glen. He is expected to race this weekend in the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.

“I felt having him in the car next weekend at Indianapolis would be a great opportunity for me to continue to evaluate my entire organization from an owner’s perspective,” Waltrip said Wednesday. “The feedback related to road course racing that Terry was able to provide my team after Infineon Raceway was very valuable.

“We look forward to more of the same input after Indy.”

Labonte has 11 starts at The Brickyard, with a career-best finish of third in 1996.

AP-ES-07-18-07 1056EDT