Former Sprint Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte is poised to join Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and drive the organization's No. 8 Chevrolet in a move that includes several shakeups in that organization for the 2009 season, The Observer has learned.
Multiple sources confirmed Monday Labonte's move should be formally announced within two weeks as part of a vast overhaul of the new company which will include:
Driver Juan Pablo Montoya is expected to continue to drive the No. 42 car again next season but should pick up the Target primary sponsorship, which has formerly been with the No. 41.
Martin Truex Jr. will continue to drive the No. 1 car. However, his primary sponsor, Bass Pro Shops, has greatly reduced its role with the team and the organization is searching for sponsorship for upwards of 15 or more races for the No. 1.
Aric Almirola, who was scheduled to drive the No. 8, will drive a fourth car, which currently does not have sponsorship. It remains unclear how many races the team will run or what number the car will use.
Some of the sponsorship plans remain in flux, but the driver changes have for the most part been finalized for the 2009 season, sources said.
Among other changes on the horizon are the expected departures of Max Siegel, president of global operations for the former Dale Earnhardt Inc., and John Story, who has most recently served as vice president of motorsports operations for DEI, sources said.
It appears the competition side of the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team will be run by co-owner Chip Ganassi and Ganassi president Steve Lauletta.
Officials with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing declined comment Monday.
Labonte, who left Petty Enterprises last month, has been rumored to drive the organization's No. 41 car which currently has a vacancy. It now appears Labonte, who won the 2000 championship and has 21 career wins, will get his wish to join the organization but in slightly different circumstances.