I'll lay it out plain and simple for you:
1) Sadler is out of the 19 car. I feel bad for the Esad fans out there let me tell you.
2) Allmendinger is in the 19 car. AJ did run better than Elliott in the last five 2008 races for GEM, posting an average finish of 16.4 while Elliott had an average finish 31.8 in the same GEM equipment.
3) No one is in the 43 car because they a) can't find a sponsor yet, or b) the merger talks between GEM and Petty are not going so well. Either way no driver is needed for the 43 that is why AJ and/or Elliott weren't considered for the drivers seat left vacant by the departing Labonte.
By the way, I've been meaning to write about Labonte's departure for a week now but I haven't found the time to do so. Essentially what I wanted to say about the whole thing is this, "Man I feel for the guy."
I mean he put all his peas in one pot and the Pettys, through no fault of their own, went and spilt the whole damn thing over his head. Lots can be said about the rapid decline of the Petty organization this last year and when combined with a tumbling economy it brewed the perfect storm to oust Labonte from the storied drivers seat of the 43 car.
But I mean really, was the collapse of the Petty organization really that sudden? Think about it, it has been in a slow and steady decline for the last decade or more but no one has really admitted it.
If we ignore it, it'll go away.
Not this time.
It saddens me to think of a race without a Petty (at least in name) owned car in it, especially the #43, but it just might be the reality of next race season.
Photo credit: AP photo by Rick Havner daylife.com (Sadler 19, Allmendinger 84)