Darlington: Labbe - Ford interview

Richard "Slugger" Labbe was penalized by NASCAR this past week for technical inspection issues at Richmond International Raceway. Robert Yates Racing has appealed the penalty so Labbe is in attendance this weekend at Darlington. He spoke...

Richard "Slugger" Labbe was penalized by NASCAR this past week for technical inspection issues at Richmond International Raceway. Robert Yates Racing has appealed the penalty so Labbe is in attendance this weekend at Darlington. He spoke about what happened prior to qualifying.

RICHARD "SLUGGER" LABBE, Crew Chief -- No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion

"I know it's killing Robert to go through this and it really hurts me because I feel I let him down and our race team down, but it's something that we did. It wasn't that we tried to hide anything. It was out in the open and it's not something we did after inspection. It's an area in the rulebook that we work that we interpret the rulebook different than how they look at it, so we'll go to the appeals board on Wednesday and see what they say. If they believe us, they might help us out. If they don't, then we'll just accept the penalty and go on."

WHAT IS THE SIMILARITY OR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS AND WHAT CHAD KNAUS DID AT DAYTONA? "I guess you could say what Chad and Todd Berrier did they did it after inspection. It was out in the open where they did it and we went through inspection with it on the car, qualified with it, and all of a sudden they didn't like it. I know it's hard on the inspector to look at every part under the car going through inspection, but it was on there all day long the day prior and not a word was said. It's tough. I don't think we were singled out. It just caught his eye and he didn't like the way it was, so me and John (Darby) and Robin Pemberton had a discussion about it and they felt at the time we should take it off so that's we did."

DID YOU OFFER TO RESIGN? "Robert made some comments at Daytona that the press really didn't tell the whole story. They just told the side of the story that they wanted and I felt bad for Robert because he's been around this garage for a while and to label someone on his team a cheater really bothers me and I know it bothers him too. I feel strongly in saying that I'm not a cheater. We push the rules like any other team in the garage area and got singled out. Yeah, I did offer. The first thing I told Robert is, 'I can make this easy for you. I can resign if you want me to.' And he was like, 'No, I totally support you 100 percent and what you did was in the gray area in the rulebook.' What he was talking about what Chad did was something that he did after inspection."

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR CHANCES ARE WITH THE APPEAL? "That's a tough one. The odds are stacked against us, but Chad and Alan from the 5 car laid their case out right and they got some things turned around after the Vegas race, so at least we're taking a chance at it and a shot at it. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't, we've got a decent team and I think we'll be just OK."

HOW IS THE TEAM WITH THIS AND THE DJ RUMORS? "Well, life is full of challenges and you are what you make of it. My guys are up for the challenge, but a lot of my guys new what we were doing with that particular part. I had them read the rulebook and understand my thoughts. Trust me, I just didn't put it on the car hoping they wouldn't see it. We talked a lot about it and worked hard on it and felt comfortable putting it on the car because it was not clearly defined in the rulebook. If they don't like it, it's their game. We breathe their air."

SO IT WAS A GRAY AREA IN YOUR OPINION? "It was just an area in the rulebook that wasn't really clearly defined about how the rear swaybar should be mounted, so it's something we worked hard on and it's what we did. It's over with now and it's up to the hearing on Wednesday. If the appeals board hears on our side, we'll do whatever they tell us to do. But if not, we'll go race. That's what we get paid to do."

HOW WILL YOU HANDLE HAVING TO STAY HOME IF YOU HAVE TO? "It'll be tough. We'll probably cut a body off a speedway car or something and get ready for Daytona. Both the 29 and the 48 won races without a crew chief, so I feel confident that my guys can do it too."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing