Allmendinger replacing Labonte in select races

JTG Daugherty Racing revealed on Saturday that A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 47 Toyota in place of Bobby Labonte in at least five Sprint Cup Series races this season.

Allmendinger's first race with the team will be next weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Labonte will start 29th in Sunday's 400-mile race at Pocono Raceway. JTG Daugherty has not confirmed Allmendinger's four other races at this time.

JTG Daugherty said the move is being made to help refine the direction for the team's development of NASCAR's new Sprint Cup race car, the Gen-6, which made its debut at the start of this season.

Labonte, the 2000 Cup Series champion, is currently 28th in the point standings. His best finish this season is 15th, which came in the Feb. 24 season-opening Daytona 500. Pocono will mark Labonte's 701st consecutive start in the series.

"Bobby Labonte wanted to help our team grow and develop when he signed on with our organization at the beginning of the 2011 season," team co-owner Brad Daugherty said. "He continues to do a tremendous job for us. Bobby has given us his ideas for improving the product, and we believe A.J. will do the same."

Allmendinger is running a limited Sprint Cup schedule for Phoenix Racing this year. He also has competed in several IndyCar Series races, including the Indianapolis 500, for team owner Roger Penske. Allmendinger is scheduled to drive in the upcoming Nationwide Series races at Road America and Mid-Ohio for Penske as well.

"I have raced for Phoenix Racing some this year and feel confident I'll be able to provide JTG Daugherty Racing with a good comparison," Allmendinger said. "I'm thankful for this opportunity to work with the team and Bobby."

Allmendinger is driving the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing at Pocono, starting 18th.