NASCAR America: Slugger Labbe says why he left Richard Childress Racing (video)

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Slugger Labbe announced Monday that after six seasons, he would be leaving the No. 3 team of Austin Dillon and Richard Childress Racing.

While he does not rule out a potential return to RCR at some point in the future, for now he’s just taking a break and fielding potential opportunities from other organizations.

Justin Alexander will take over as Dillon’s crew chief immediately, just in time for arguably the most difficult race on the schedule, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Slugger Labbe exits Richard Childress Racing as Austin Dillon gets crew chief Justin Alexander

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Richard Childress Racing made multiple crew chief changes Monday that included the departure of longtime employee Richard “Slugger” Labbe.

Justin Alexander was named crew chief for Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet in replacing Labbe, who is leaving RCR to pursue “other opportunities,” according to the team.

Alexander, who previously worked as the crew chief for Paul Menard, was promoted from RCR’s No. 2 in the Xfinity Series. Randall Burnett, who recently left AJ Allmendinger’s team, will take over Alexander’s job in the Xfinity Series.

Labbe had been a Cup crew chief with RCR since 2010. He initially worked with Menard, who won the 2011 Brickyard 400 with Labbe as crew chief. He had been with Dillon since midway through the 2015 season.

In 500 starts as a Cup crew chief, Labbe has five victories, also winning three times with Michael Waltrip and once with Jeremy Mayfield.

Here’s the release from the team:

Richard Childress Racing Announces Competition Changes to its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series Programs

Justin Alexander to take over No. 3 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Crew Chief Role;

Randall Burnett to take over No. 2 XFINITY Series Crew Chief Position

WELCOME, N.C. (May 22, 2017) – Richard Childress Racing has made a change in crew chiefs for its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series programs, effective immediately.

Justin Alexander, who has served as the crew chief of the No. 2 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet for RCR and earned two wins last season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, will assume crew chief responsibilities for the No. 3 Dow/American Ethanol/AAA Chevrolet SS team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with driver Austin Dillon. Alexander holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Prior to RCR, Alexander served in various engineering roles with Hendrick Motorsports. Alexander’s first race in his new role will be for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, replacing Richard “Slugger” Labbe. Labbe is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Randall Burnett, who previously served as a crew chief for RCR’s technical partner JTG Daugherty Racing, will assume a new role as crew chief of the No. 2 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet in the NASCAR XFINITY Series beginning at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27. Burnett holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from UNC Charlotte. Prior to JTG Daugherty Racing, he spent 10 years as an engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Clint Bowyer wins pole for Monster Energy Open

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Clint Bowyer won the pole for Saturday night’s Monster Energy Open with a lap of 189.474 mph at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He was followed by Ryan Blaney (188.009 mph), Chase Elliott (187.859), Austin Dillon (187.487) and AJ Allmendinger (187.285).

Twenty-four cars will star the race.

The Open, scheduled to begin at about 6 p.m. ET, will feature three stages. The first stage will be 20 laps. The second stage will be 20 laps. The final stage will be 10 laps. The winner of each stage advances to the All-Star Race provided they pass lug nut inspection.

The fan vote winner will be announced after the Open.

Click here for starting lineup

 

Scan All: Martin Truex Jr.’s impressive win at Kansas Speedway (video)

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NASCAR isn’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

Well, at least not again until this fall’s playoff race at Kansas Speedway.

There was plenty of chatter on team radios throughout Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at the 1.5-mile track.

Not only was there jubilation from race winner Martin Truex Jr., there was criticism from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon, philosophical observations from Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola screaming about how much pain he was in after the big wreck with Joey Logano and Danica Patrick.

Here’s some of the top exchanges:

Martin Truex to his team with somewhat of a premonition before the start of the race: “Good luck in there. We’ve been close here before. Let’s close the deal here tonight.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. when his car started going south: “I hate to tell you this, but we’ve got a vibration, definitely a loose wheel. Are we going to have this all day long? Let’s get these tires on tight. I don’t care how long y’all take.”

More Earnhardt, same problem: “The wheel’s coming loose again. Ugggh, it’s nerve-wrecking? Why’d the stop take so damn long. I guess I did ask for you to take your time.”

Clint Bowyer after getting pushed back from second place on a restart: “Well, let’s start over.”

Aric Almirola screaming to his spotter and crew chief after the big wreck with Logano and Patrick: “My back, my back, my back, arghhhhhh!”

Jimmie Johnson on Almirola’s crash: “Oh my god, that is not good.

Austin Dillon on Almirola’s crash: “Dude, that is bad, bad, bad, bad.”

Austin Dillon’s spotter on Danica Patrick after the crash with Logano and Almirola: “She’s out. You ain’t going to hurt her, man. She’s tougher than a pine knot.”

Austin Dillon likely didn’t earn any points with grandfather and team owner Richard Childress complaining about his race car after wrecking on the checkered flag lap: “Yes, I’m okay. Gosh dang it, man. It’s unreal. Our cars are pieces of (expletive) every week.”

Martin Truex Jr. upon crossing the start-finish line first: “Yeah, baby. We finally got it. Kansas. Woo! Yeah, finally got it. Hell yeah, man. Hell of a job.”

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Who will win the fan vote to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race? You decide

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The polls are open and waiting for your vote.

It’s time choose your favorite driver to run in next weekend’s 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The race takes place May 20th and the single driver that earns the most fan votes will receive an automatic berth in the main event.

Voting is currently taking place.

Fans can vote once per day at NASCAR.com/fanvote, and votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double. Also, don’t forget to use the hashtags #AllStarRace and #FanVote on social media.

Voting closes May 19 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here’s the list of eligible drivers that are on the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race Fan Vote ballot:

AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, Daniel Suárez and Cole Whitt.