Labonte to join JTG Daugherty

Updated: July 28, 2010, 2:25 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte finalized a deal to replace Marcos Ambrose in the No. 47 at JTG Daugherty Racing in 2011.

ESPN.com reported the agreement on Tuesday. Labonte and JTG Daugherty officials made an announcement Wednesday.

Ambrose announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the organization that gets engines and chassis from Michael Waltrip Racing in Harrisburg. Sources said he had one year left on his contract but the two parties mutually agreed to part.

There has been speculation that Ambrose will move to Richard Petty Motorsports, but no deal has been finalized.

Ambrose will complete this season in the No. 47.

Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion at Joe Gibbs Racing, started the season with TRG Motorsports, but left in June when the team was placed in the position of start-and-park due to lack of sponsorship funds.

Over the last month he has driven one race for Robby Gordon Motorsports and three for Phoenix Racing, although he will be in the TRG car this weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Labonte hasn't had a victory since 2003 at JGR.

JTG Daugherty co-owner Tad Geschickter said in a statement on Tuesday morning the organization was disappointed to see Ambrose leave.

"After five years, I personally felt it was time for a change," Ambrose said.

Sources said Ambrose has several options, including returning to Australia, but his first choice is to remain in NASCAR.

"I'm grateful to JTG Daugherty Racing for giving me an opportunity to become a NASCAR driver and I wish them the best in the future,'' Ambrose said.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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