Veteran Mario Gosselin helping Alex Labbe impress as a rookie
Mario Gosselin served as crew chief during Alex Labbe’s 2017 championship season in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and is now leading his rookie campaign in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
When Québec natives Alex Labbe and Mario Gosselin announced in early February they would join forces to compete full-time in the Xfinity Series, both men knew they had the talent and experience to have a respectable start to the season, but so far they’re both exceeding expectations.
The Victoriaville, Québec, native is 15th in the NXS point standings after the first four races and has completed 701 out of a possible 706 laps so far this season.
Labbe was running in the top-10 late in his first race at Daytona International Speedway and appeared to be in contention for a top-five finish before running out of fuel just prior to the fifth and final attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
His run at Daytona impressed a lot of NASCAR observers, but it didn’t surprise Gosselin.
“I really wasn’t surprised by his performance at Daytona,” said Gosselin. “We brought him down for the ARCA test in the offseason and he was comfortable in the car right away so we felt he would have a chance for a good day and he did.”
The next strong run by Labbe in Atlanta was more notable to Gosselin and his team.
“Atlanta and Las Vegas are tough very tough and challenging tracks and for Alex to run as well as he did really impressed me,” said Gosselin. “With Atlanta’s worn out asphalt and him never racing there before he did everything he needed to do to learn and keep the car in one piece all day long. He did a great job.”
Gosselin, from Ste. Marie, Québec, also adds that Labbe is a great student of the sport and is learning as fast as he can from the entire team.
“He’s (Labbe) willing to listen and apply what we’re telling him on the race track,” said Gosselin. “I think (his solid start to the season) is a combination of a lot of things. He does a lot of simulator racing on iRacing and he’s working well with his spotter Tab Boyd.
“We’re above expectations for sure at this point of the season as we really started the season behind a little and hope to have a new car ready to go in a couple of weeks.”
Boyd, who also spots for William Byron in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Johnny Sauter in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, is impressed with the maturity Labbe has shown.
“He’s willing to listen and learn and I do everything I can to help him,” said Boyd. “He’s got a lot of talent and shown a willingness to learn and try something during a race to find more speed if we notice a line the veterans are using to help him. It’s been a lot of fun spotting for him so far this season.”
The experience of working together is something Gooselin, who’s made 92 career starts in the three NASCAR national series himself, also feels is helping the long-time friends.
“We won the NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship last year together and we trust one another,” he added. “We’re doing this as a team and that’s what makes it special and we look forward to the rest of the season.”
Labbe has now made seven starts in the NXS with his previous three starts coming at Phoenix, Texas and Charlotte with a best finish of 17th at Las Vegas this year.
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