slugger labbe

NASCAR America: Joey Logano faces must-win situation in Bristol

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Joey Logano needs a win to make it into the Cup playoffs. Currently outside the top 16, the Team Penske driver has to win in the next three races or he likely won’t make it to the playoffs

Luckily, he’s won two of the last three night races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

But NASCAR America analyst Slugger Labbe says Logano’s recent record “doesn’t matter.

“You’re going to Bristol now, a night race, a traction compound that’s going to be applied and that’s going to wear off,” Labbe said. “Your car is going to be adjustable. The team can’t make any mistakes. They’re 98 points out of the playoff bubble. They have to win. Bristol is definitely a good shot for them.”

But in addition to the traction compound that had been treated on the track differently, Parker Kligerman said he thinks there’s a “lack of … confidence” in the No. 22 team.

“It doesn’t seem like the confidence is there to go out and get that win,” Kligerman said. “This is a race track that rewards confidence.”

Watch the video for the full discussion.

NASCAR America: After rough month, Kyle Larson looking forward to upcoming races

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Kyle Larson has a reason to be excited.

In the last two months dating back to Sonoma, Larson has two DNFs and five finishes of 23rd or worst. He also lost crew chief Chad Johnston to a three-race suspension. Johnston returned last weekend at Watkins Glen.

Now with Larson third in the points, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is going to a track he’s hard to beat.

The Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway, which the No. 42 team has won the last two races.

“I think what happened is they detuned their race cars a little bit,” NASCAR America’s Slugger Labbe said of the team’s recent run of bad luck following Johnston’s suspension.  “I think it’s time at Michigan, won the last two races, to get back to racing.”

Parker Kligerman said the upcoming races provide a “litmus test” for the team to find out if they have lost speed.

“When he goes to Michigan and they’re suddenly not as fast at Michigan as in recent months and last year, then there’s a question mark,” Kligerman said. “That’s going to be great for them to find out.”

NASCAR America: Pressure building as Joey Logano seeks to earn playoff spot (video)

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All but needing a win to make the playoffs, Joey Logano has five races left to do so, starting with Sunday’s event at Watkins Glen International.

Logano, who has made it to the championship race in two of the last three years, still has favorable tracks for him before the playoffs begin next month.

“I know I’ve heard him say that this weekend presents his best opportunity to win,” Dale Jarrett said Friday on NASCAR America. “I also think that Bristol and Richmond present him opportunities, but the sooner you can get it out of the way, the better.”

Slugger Labbe said it’s not just Logano who is under pressure.

“I think some pressure is on the team,” Labbe said on NASCAR America. “They’ve never arrived at Watkins Glen in the past needing a win … The thing the team has to do is not panic.”

Labbe also said that crew chief Todd Gordon “has to call a perfect race.”

Thirteen drivers have claimed a playoff spot with victories, leaving three spots open. Those three spots are owned by Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. Logano is 69 points behind Kenseth for the final playoff spot.

For more on what Logano faces, watch the video above.

 

NASCAR America from 5-6 p.m. ET: Previewing Watkins Glen

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and previews this weekend’s action at Watkins Glen International.

Carolyn Manno hosts from Stamford, Connecticut, and is joined by Dale Jarrett at Watkins Glen and Slugger Labbe at NBC Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll have highlights of Xfinity Series practice. Plus, we’ll look ahead to Sunday’s Monster Energy Cup Series race.
  • We’ll go into the vault and relive some of Watkins Glen’s best moments with This Day in NASCAR and our top-5 list.
  • Watkins Glen will be a welcome site for a struggling Joey Logano. Will the historic road course provide the right formula for a ticket to the 2017 playoffs? We’ll examine his chances.
  • We’ll take a look back at the last seven days which provided a season’s worth of storylines.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 89: Slugger Labbe

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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.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on a host of other smartphone apps.