The #88 UPS Team will race the next four weeks without the services of crew chief Slugger Labbe after the NASCAR Appeals Committee denied the appeal submitted by Robert Yates Racing on Labbe's behalf. As a result, Jason Burdett, car chief for the #88 UPS Team, will assume the crew chief role at the track in preparation for Saturday night's All-Star Challenge and during the course of Labbe's suspension.
"We're disappointed but respect the decision of the appeals committee and accept the results," Labbe said. "Jason Burdett is a long time employee of RYR and deserves this opportunity. Jason has been involved with the #88 team for years as car chief and certainly understands the handling of the race car and the different things that I would communicate to Dale Jarrett. He's the best person to do this for our #88 team because the communication has already been started with the driver and crew members."
Burdett has been a long-time employee of Robert Yates Racing. Burdett was with the #88 RYR team when Jarrett won the 1999 NASCAR championship. He left RYR to join Hendrick Motorsports in 2001 where he served as car chief with the #24 team and driver Jeff Gordon, the same year Gordon won the fourth of his four championships. In 2002, Burdett moved to the newly formed #48 team with rookie driver Jimmie Johnson where he served as crew chief until returning to RYR in May 2003.
"We're just going to go do the same things we've been doing all year," Burdett said of his added responsibilities. "We have a pretty good support group and we all work so close together that it should be pretty seamless."
Jerry Pitts, RYR's ARCA crew chief, and Travis Geisler, engineer on the #90 RYR Ford that competes in the NASCAR Busch Series, will assist Burdett as needed.