Rookie Alex Labbe scores best finish to date in 2018 at Bristol
Defending NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion qualifies 16th and finishes 11th in first Xfinity Series start at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
After getting caught up in two accidents not of his making, Alex Labbe and crew chief Mario Gosselin displayed how far they’ve come since the beginning of Labbe’s rookie campaign in the national series.
Labbe rebounded from a lap down to almost finish in the top 10 in his first race at the track and was all smiles in the garage after his solid day.
“A dream day I would say,” said Labbe. “We got involved in the early accident on the fourth or fifth lap of the race and exhaust broke off so it was really loud and hot in the car.”
Although his car suffered some damage and he had to pit for repairs, Labbe credited his team and spotter Tab Boyd for helping him get back in the race.
“(After we) got involved in the second accident and we just kept working and dialed the car in pretty good as Mario made some awesome calls on the car,” said Labbe. “We got we were pretty good.
“I just tried to adjust my driving to make the car better and stay calm (after the accidents) because I knew there it was going to be a long race. Tab and Mario did a lot to help me.”
Labbe, who’s previous best finish in the Xfinity Series this season was 17th at Las Vegas, was pleasantly surprised with his final result.
“(It’s) awesome to leave here with an 11th-place finish,” said Labbe. “I knew my team and I were capable of a strong run and we thought we might crack the top 15. We’re almost in the top 10 and this finish was awesome for our team.”
While Labbe is a rookie driver in the series, his car owner and crew chief feels Saturday’s finish was a total team effort.
“I tell you what, there’s a lot of heart on this team and I thought we were in trouble early as we kept getting caught up in messes,” said Gosselin. “To finish 11th-place is great and I would have signed up for that on Wednesday (if I was offered) before coming to Bristol.
“We have potential to finish even better if we would have had a chance to put our (last set of) tires on but everybody did a great job on the car. Our guys pull all-nighters, work hard and never complain. (Running like this) makes this fun.”
Labbe will continue his season Friday night competing for the first time at Richmond (va.) International Raceway.
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