Engineer Justin Alexander will transition into the No. 27 team's crew chief position
CHARLOTTE – After 28 years in racing, Richard “Slugger” Labbe is switching gears.
The veteran crew chief, whose resume includes victories in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, told Motorsport.com on Wednesday, “It’s time to slow down.”
For now, Labbe will be reassigned into Richard Childress Racing’s research and development department. He’s been at RCR since 2010 as the crew chief for Paul Menard.
The No. 27 team’s engineer Justin Alexander, who joined the organization this season after working for Hendrick Motorsports, will be under Labbe's guidance over the next two races before he officially becomes the crew chief at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 19.
Working with Slugger has been a valuable learning experience and I appreciate him helping me make the transition into this new role.
"I appreciate the opportunity RCR is giving me to lead the No. 27 team and Paul," Alexander said in the release. "Working with Slugger has been a valuable learning experience and I appreciate him helping me make the transition into this new role.
"I'm really excited to work with Paul and all the guys on this Menards team. Paul is a talented driver and I'm looking forward to what this team can accomplish in 2015."
Alexander is a graduate of North Carolina State University.
The bigger picture
With the new Sprint Cup rules for 2015 and the testing ban, Labbe believes his contribution to RCR will be best served in the R&D department.
This is the right move for me.
“This is a great opportunity for me to help RCR get up to speed with all the changes coming for next season,” Labbe said. “It will also allow me to spend more time at home with my family.
“I was talking to Jimmy Fennig (Carl Edwards’ crew chief, who will retire at the end of the year) and I realized that this is the right move for me. This is something I want to do.”
During his tenure at RCR, Labbe has led the No. 27 Menard’s Chevy to 13 top-five and 43 top-10 finishes including Paul Menard’s first career Sprint Cup win in the 2011 Brickyard 400.
Menard, 34, who is currently 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Points standings, referred to Labbe as “a great leader”
"Slugger will be a huge asset in making RCR stronger in his new role with the team," Menard said. "I am looking forward to working with Justin. Throughout this season, he has shown the qualities and potential to be a great crew chief."