TRINITY, N.C. – Bobby Labonte broke three ribs in a bike riding accident Wednesday near his North Carolina home and will miss this weekend’s NASCAR race in Atlanta.
A spokesman for the driver said Labonte was taken to a hospital by ambulance and will be held overnight for observation.
Labonte was scheduled to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’ll be replaced in the car by Mike Bliss.
Labonte’s consecutive starts streak came to an end earlier this season at 704 races when JTG Daugherty Racing used AJ Allmendinger at Kentucky in June instead of Labonte.
The 2000 NASCAR champion had not missed a start since he began racing full time in the Cup Series in 1993. He’s won 21 races Cup races.
GREG ZIPADELLI, crew chief both times Tony Stewart ran the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, is no fan of the grueling doubleheader.
It’s a position he made clear last October to Danica Patrick as she was trying to put together an Indy 500 deal that would interfere with her first full season of Sprint Cup racing.
“I think it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” Zipadelli said last year of Patrick’s desire to run at Indianapolis. “I lived through it twice with one of the greatest racers I’ve ever seen, and trying to run both of those races is just stupid. She needs to focus on the Cup car if that’s what she wants to do. If she’s here to be in NASCAR, then she needs to be here focused on NASCAR.”
Patrick heeded that advice and halted her plans. Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion, also took a pass when Roger Penske in December offered him a ride in the 500.
Now Zipadelli has a new problem on his hands: Kurt Busch, the newest addition at Stewart-Haas Racing, said he’s still trying to put together a deal to run next year’s Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport.
It was enough to make Zipadelli, the competition director at SHR, wince several times.
Stewart, the co-owner at SHR, is sidelined the rest of the year with a broken leg suffered in a sprint car race, and Zipadelli has said several times there’s not much anyone can do to limit Stewart’s outside racing schedule. But running events away from NASCAR is obviously a delicate subject right now.
“There’s still the concern of running extracurricular races,” Busch said. “We’ll see what opportunities lay ahead.”
KYLE LARSON is about to achieve his goal of becoming a driver in NASCAR’s premier Sprint Cup Series.
The 21-year-old racing prodigy from Elk Grove, Calif., will join Jamie McMurray next year on the two-car team of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Larson is expected to step into the No. 42 Chevrolet and replace veteran Juan Pablo Montoya.
The team this month declined to re-sign Montoya, 37, a former Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One driver who found little success in NASCAR.
Montoya, in his seventh year in stock-car racing, is 21st in the Cup standings and has reached NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup title playoff only once, in 2009.
Larson, a Japanese-American, is in his rookie year in NASCAR’s second-level Nationwide Series. He’s eighth in the Nationwide point standings and, although he hasn’t won a Nationwide race, has 13 top-10 finishes in 23 races.
It’s only his second year driving stock cars, and before that Larson excelled at racing midget cars, sprints and other open-wheel cars on dirt and paved tracks.
In 2011, he won races in the World of Outlaws sprint-car series, in all three U.S. Auto Club national divisions and in the American Sprint Car Series.
He has drawn high praise from such NASCAR champions as Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who last year called Larson “absolutely phenomenal.”
Larson also defeated Stewart and others in a qualifying race at the Chili Bowl Nationals midget-car race this year.