Bobby Labonte's release from Petty Enterprises Thursday wasn't a complete surprise since the team is trying desperately to merge or sell itself to Gillett Evernham Motorsports.
Sources have indicated the deal is close to being finalized and that when it's complete will have the storied No. 43 part of the GEM stable with"The King" himself, Richard Petty, still involved.
As for Labonte, those same sources have told me that although the 2000 champion officially parted ways with PE, he could still wind up back in the No. 43 in a new deal with the new entity.
The other logical place for Labonte to wind up is with the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team, which has an empty seat in its No. 41 ride. That car has full sponsorship from Target and a veteran like Labonte could be the ticket to help the newly-melded four car team have some stability.
But there are indications Target would rather have a younger driver, a role 23-year-old Reed Sorenson filled as driver of the car before departing for, ironically, GEM in 2009. If that's the case, A.J. Allmendinger, also stil looking for a full-time Cup ride since his release from Red Bull Racing in October, could get the coveted seat.
My guess is in either scenario Labonte will be a full-time Sprint Cup driver in 2009. He may have a new address but with both the No. 43 and No. 41 rides still open, Labonte will more than likely have his mail delivered to one of those spots by the time Daytona rolls around.