Michigan: Richard Labbe - Ford interview

Richard "Slugger" Labbe, crew chief of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, returned to the race track after serving a four-week suspension for a rule violation at Richmond. Labbe spoke about what it was like watching from his home the past ...

Richard "Slugger" Labbe, crew chief of the No. 88 UPS Ford Fusion, returned to the race track after serving a four-week suspension for a rule violation at Richmond. Labbe spoke about what it was like watching from his home the past month.

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

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING BACK? "It's neat, but it stinks. I suffered the last four weeks by not seeing all of your friends in the garage. You get out of tune with what's going on. You miss four weeks and technology changes everyday and you miss out on some things, so we're playing catch-up. The penalty is something I deserved. I just pushed the rules a little too much and I'm OK with that. I got what I deserved. Sometimes you do things and get caught and sometimes you don't. My number was up and I got caught and that's OK. I deserved it and I fulfilled my punishment and now it's time to go race again. Obviously, we've got to get running better and that's our number one goal. It's one of the toughest things I've had to do in my life. When you're a racer all you want to do is race and when you can't do it, it really hurts."

WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT TIME BY MAYBE WORKING ON SOME THINGS AT THE SHOP? "I still came to the race track every weekend. John Darby told me I couldn't come in the garage and I couldn't talk on the radio, but I could go anywhere else. I'd go up in the grandstands in turn one or turn two or wherever I wanted to go and what I did was let the guys just run the deal like I wasn't here. I just wanted to watch cars. I went down in turns one and two at Pocono and just watched and learned some different things. At Dover, me and Robert hung out all day on Friday and learned a lot because there are certain things you can't see from on top of the truck or pit road. I saw a lot of different things and theories that people are doing and you just have to write them all down and have some discussions about it. What everybody sees on the frontstretch is different than what they see in the middle of turn one and two. I definitely learned a lot. Now I know why other race teams take a lot of pictures of race cars and shoot video because there's a lot to be learned out there from people in the garage without asking and just watching. It enabled me to be around the race track and even though I worried about the 88, I didn't that much because I had three good guys taking care of the deal. I focused on watching other cars and learning about that. Will it help us today or tomorrow? No, but it will point us in the right direction. We're not gonna fix our deal overnight obviously. We've got a lot of issues and we're trying to get them all addressed, but it's just another view of what's going on, so we'll put it all together and hopefully one day we'll have it."

SO DID A LIGHT BULB KIND OF GO ON AS TO WHAT'S GOING ON? "Yeah, it was neat watching everything. The 17 and the 16 would go by and I was like, 'Gee, look at that.' And then the 38 and 88 would come by and I could see that we had some work to do. Then I would talk to Tommy about it and discuss different things. Technology changes every day. You win on Sunday, you better be working on Monday for a new plan because things change every day."

-ford racing

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Series NASCAR Cup