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Labonte, Petty Enterprises part

Dec. 11, 2008 at 1:33 PM   |   Comments

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ARCHDALE, N.C., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The partnership between driver Terry Labonte and Petty Enterprises ended Thursday because of Petty's worsening economic straits.

Labonte was released when Petty Enterprises announced that it is negotiating with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports to field its flagship No. 43 car next season.

"In over 15 years of racing in the Sprint Cup Series, I can't remember a time when the sport's landscape looks as it does today," Labonte said in a statement. "Saying that, Petty Enterprises and I had serious and very sincere discussions about what was best for myself and everyone involved at Petty Enterprises moving forward. I am ready to explore all opportunities."

Labonte, 44, the 2000 champion, had driven for Petty since 2006 but has decided not to retire, and Petty Enterprises becomes a single-car entity.

Labonte has won 21 times in 546 career races.

"Bobby is a true champion who never failed to give everything he had when he was behind the wheel," Richard Petty said.

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