Petty Enterprises, Labonte plan announcements Thursday morning on future

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Petty Enterprises plans to make an announcement regarding its future on Thursday morning, sources told ESPN.com.

Bobby Labonte, the driver of the No. 43 that team owner Richard Petty drove to seven Sprint Cup championships, also is prepared to make an announcement.

Details of the announcements were not immediately known, but the Pettys have been in negotiations with Gillett Evernham regarding a possible merger into a four-car team.

Under that scenario, the No. 43 would become the fourth car with the No. 9 (Kasey Kahne), 19 (Elliott Sadler) and 10 (Reed Sorenson) of GEM.

GEM officials said they had no plans for an announcement.

Whether Labonte, who signed an extension with the Pettys earlier this year when the organization sold majority interest to Boston Ventures, will remain in the 43 or go elsewhere also is not known.

The 43 lost its primary sponsor, General Mills, to Richard Childress Racing and has been unable to secure sponsorship for 2009.

Officials at Petty Enterprises and GEM were not immediately available for comment.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.