HOF to sever ties with Yates Hall of Fame Racing would like to keep Bobby Labonte as its NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and likely will not be affiliated with Yates Racing next year, team co-owner Tom Garfinkel said Monday.
The organization signed Ask.com as a sponsor and Bobby Labonte as a driver in January for the 2009 season and then landed a deal with Yates Racing for Yates to field the cars. Seven of the final 12 races were unsponsored, and Yates Racing has opted to put Erik Darnell in the No. 96 Sprint Cup car instead of Labonte.
Garfinkel, in a phone interview, said his organization is still in discussions with Ask.com for next season but doesn’t anticipate the Yates Racing relationship to continue. The organization is looking for other teams to partner with and is in discussions with other sponsors as well, Garfinkel said.
“As far as Yates Racing, it has been a good relationship. I think they’re starting to move forward on some plans for next year,” Garfinkel said. “We don’t have our plans for next year finalized yet, and in all likelihood, we’ll be going a different direction from a team partnership standpoint.”
Hall of Fame remains committed to the 2000 Cup champion as a driver and would like him to continue as its driver in 2010 if possible, Garfinkel said. He wouldn’t say specifically if he agreed with the decision to pull Labonte, who is 30th in points, for select races this season.
“For us, Bobby is our driver and will be for all the races that we have control over for the rest of the year,” Garfinkel said. “This was a decision that Yates Racing had the contractual right to change the driver for some of the races. They made that decision in what they believe is in the best interest for their business, and they’re entitled to that. They have to do what they think is best for their business. … We think the world of Bobby Labonte as a race-car driver and as a person.
“We’d love to continue to be involved with Bobby. That’s not entirely up to us. We want what’s best for Bobby. If that means he’s still with us, we’d be thrilled.” Scenedaily.com