Former NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Alex Labbe is a solid contender for rookie of the year in the Xfinity Series.
After Labbe decided to join forces with veteran driver and crew chief Mario Gosselin to compete full-time in the Xfinity Series this year, one of his goals was to get as much experience as possible.
So far, the St. Albert, Québec, native has exceeded his initial goals as he prepares to finish the first third of his rookie season.
Labbe enters Saturday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway 16th in the point standings after 10 races and has scored a season-best finish of 11th at Bristol Motor Speedway last month.
“I feel pretty good and we’ve ran really strong on the short tracks and had some good runs on mile-and-a-half tracks,” said Labbe. “We’re happy to be 16th in the standings and in pretty good shape and trying to get better every week.
“We have a brand new car here at Charlotte and we’re just trying to dial the car in and get ready for (Saturday’s race). We have a lot to learn on this car and it has a lot of potential.”
Labbe, who won five races last year on oval tracks in Canada en route to winning the Pinty’s championship, says the first 10 races this season has given him numerous chances to learn and improve behind the wheel.
“There has been a couple of learning moments,” said Labbe. “I’ve really enjoyed racing at Dover, Bristol and a lot of tracks that have been a lot of fun. We improved every week and that is one of our goals.”
While he has finished better than expected at several races, he feels he’s proven to be a quick learner and understands what he needs to do at every race.
“We’re not there yet, but going to a track a second time or even a short track or a 1.5-mile track again will help me because once you get used to the speed at those tracks you can get faster and faster earlier in the weekend,” said Labbe.
He’s also very proud of his team, led by Gosselin, who also called races from the pit box for Labbe’s Pinty’s title.
“We have a small team with basically two and sometimes three full-time people who bust their asses and work hard every week and we never come to the track halfway ready,” said Labbe. “They are doing a great job and built this new car from scratch.”
Labbe also credits having Gosselin leading the team a bonus for him in his rookie season.
“He does a great job and knows how to prepare a car and it’s pretty special to get to work with him,” said Labbe.