Under an operating agreement with Yates Racing, announced Tuesday, Hall of Fame Racing will field a car for the Daytona 500 and beyond.

No driver or sponsor for the car was announced, but SceneDaily.com reported Tuesday night that Bobby Labonte would be the driver and Texas Instruments DLP and Ask.com would share sponsorship. Citing sources close to the situation, they reported the announcement of Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion, would be made Wednesday.

Though Yates Racing, under the ownership of Doug Yates and Max Jones, will operate the #96 Hall of Fame Ford for the full 2009 Cup schedule, Hall of Fame Racing will continue to be owned by Major League Baseball executives Tom Garfinkel and Jeff Moorad. Moorad recently resigned as CEO and general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks to pursue the purchase of the San Diego Padres.

"Jeff Moorad and I knew it would take time to construct the right model to improve our competitive position in the sport, and we think we've come a long way to achieving that through our association with Yates Racing," Garfinkel said in a statement from Yates Racing. "We're proud to be associated with Doug and Max and Ford Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series."

Hall of Fame raced the #96 Toyota last season under an affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing. JJ Yeley started the season in the car but failed to qualify for four of the first 21 races and was released in August. The driver line-up for the remainder of the season consisted of Ken Schrader (10 races), Joey Logano for two races and Brad Coleman and PJ Jones for one race each.

Pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 8, with Duel 150 qualifying races (which determine all but the top two starting positions) set for Feb. 12.

Yates Racing ran two cars full time last year - the #28 with Travis Kvapil and the #38 with David Gilliland. Kvapil finished the year 23rd in the standings, and Gilliland finished 27th. The #96 was 39th in owner points.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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