A.J. Allmendinger will be the full-time driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing entry in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014, according to an announcement from the team on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He'll be replacing Bobby Labonte. The team may also undergo a manufacturer change. That is still undecided. The No. 47, though, will remain a Toyota, at least through the end of the 2013 season.
"For me, it is an amazing opportunity," Allmendinger said. "I looked at this year as a new beginning for me. I have worked hard and feel fortunate about every opportunity this season, and I am very grateful. It has been nice to have the chance to really get to know the JTG Daugherty Racing team and the owners Brad (Daugherty), Jodi and Tad (Geschickter). This is the start of something full-time, and I look forward to the next full-blown chapter of my career with JTG Daugherty Racing."
"We will try to provide him (Labonte) with the best resources to get him to victory lane this season," Daugherty said.
Labonte has driven the No. 47 since 2010. He was slated to be the full-time driver in the car for this year, and has run most of the races on the schedule in the No. 47. But around mid-season, JTG Daugherty Racing opted to put Allmendinger in the car for a handful of races to get another driver's perspective on the team's equipment.
"We are very thankful to Bobby," Brad Daugherty said. "He did such a great job establishing baselines for our company, and we are glad we were able to extend his racing streak as long as we did. He is a champion of our sport and has won 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. He has a Hall of Fame career, and we are very thankful to him and want to work with him in the future with our company." In his three races, already, in the No. 47 in 2013, Allmendinger scored the team's best finish on the season -- a 10th-place showing at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Aug. 11. In all, Allmendinger has five top-five and 30 top-10 finishes in his Sprint Cup Series career.
Allmendinger's most recent full-time Sprint Cup Series ride was in the No. 22 entry at Penske Racing in 2012. A failed drug test last summer, though, cost him the ride with Penske just before the July race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. After successful completion of NASCAR's Road to Recovery program, he returned to NASCAR action near the end of the 2012 season to share the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet seat with Regan Smith after Kurt Busch left that team.
"It feels great that we chose each other," Allmendinger said. "There are many reasons why I feel good about it. I have come to know Tad, Jodi and Brad, and their values with the way they treat people. It is not just at the track, but away from the track. To have the opportunity to come back full-time with everything that happened. I know how very lucky I am."
So far this season, Allmendinger has raced part-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series, as well as in the IZOD IndyCar Series. He has competed in the Sprint Cup Series for Phoenix Racing and JTG Daugherty. He has won both of his Nationwide Series races this year, driving the No. 22 Ford for Penske Racing. Penske has also put Allmendinger in a car for five IndyCar races, including the Indianapolis 500 in May in which Allmendinger finished inside the top-10.