NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 89: Slugger Labbe
Slugger Labbe has a memento from his 2011 Brickyard 400 victory that tells a deeper story than just a race-winning trophy.
In the home office of the veteran crew chief is a deformed piston from Paul Menard’s No. 27 Chevrolet that triumphed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by stretching its final tank of fuel far enough to beat the faster Chevy of Jeff Gordon.
“The pistons were melted because he had saved so much fuel running partial throttle that the pistons got so hot,” Labbe said on the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “You look at that and ask, ‘How did this ever happen? We shouldn’t have finished that race. The motor should have blown up.
“Fortunately, he did a great job saving fuel that day. To win at Indy was a great accomplishment.”
Labbe, who has been working as an NBCSN analyst since leaving his role as the crew chief of Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet two months ago, recounted is many accomplishments from a three-decade career in NASCAR during the podcast.
His first victory came in the July 2002 race at Daytona International Speedway with Michael Waltrip, who also won the 2003 Daytona 500 with Labbe.
There were more wins with Waltrip and Jeremy Mayfield for Labbe, but he wasn’t atop the pit box for one of his most emotional victories. Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 in the race after Labbe’s departure from Richard Childress Racing.
One of the first to greet Dillon in victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway was Labbe, who was at the track spotting for the team.
“No, I don’t get credit for the win, and I don’t want to get credit for the win,” he said. “But I know deep down in my heart there was a lot my hard work and everyone else’s work and my leadership that went into that car.”
During the podcast, Labbe also discussed:
--His spontaneous decision to move from Maine to North Carolina by catching a ride with a NASCAR team one day;
--How much the role of a crew chief changed;
--Why he always has enjoyed doing media interviews and his recent foray into TV.
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