Alex Labbé recruited by a new team in NASCAR XFinity
DAYTONA BEACH | For the first time since his debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2016, Alex Labbé will ride for a different team than the one that gave him his 138 starts.
A few minutes after having missed the qualifying session on Saturday morning, which prevented him from participating in the initial event of the 2023 season at Daytona, the Bois-Francs driver finally had some good news to announce.
“I will be competing in the next two races of the Xfinity Series for a team other than DGM, the RSS Racing team, which recently approached me to replace one of its three drivers,” he confirmed in an interview. in the Journal de Montréal.
It is the wheel of Joe Graf that Labbé will be entrusted with at the Fontana circuits, in California, next Saturday and in Las Vegas the following week. The American was hired by Joe Gibbs' renowned team for five events during the year and RSS Racing contacted Labbé to fill this seat.
An invitation that he obviously could not refuse from this organization which also runs the brothers Ryan and Kyle Sieg. He will drive the car identified as number 28.
A turnkey steering wheel
Labbé has always hoped one day that his talent be recognized in the Xfinity Series without having to find financial backers. However, this is the first time since his arrival in the antechamber of the NASCAR Cup that he will not have to finance his participation. This is called a turnkey steering wheel.
“It's good to see that my efforts are finally rewarded,” he said. And it comes at a time when the Daytona race was the only assured race on my calendar in 2023. I hope to prove that RSS made the right choice. If all goes well, I'm also likely to replace Graf for three more events later in the season. »
This team has managed to accumulate good results over the years. In 2022, Ryan, the eldest of the two Sieg brothers, notably finished fourth twice at Talladega and finished his career in the top ten on 11 other occasions.
“ I look forward to a new Xfinity Series experience. And it will be strange not to have Mario Gosselin by my side for the first time”, underlines Labbé.
The latter did not rule out returning to service for DGM, this team managed by Gosselin, a native Beauceron. If his search for sponsors proves successful…
Another bad luck at Daytona
Labbé was confined to a spectator role on Saturday afternoon at Daytona when, for the second consecutive year, he failed to carve out a place on the starting grid
But, unlike in 2022, the 29-year-old driver has not failed on the track. He was instead unable to complete his qualifying lap because he was held up too long in the technical inspection area.
“We tried some bold adjustments to the differential on Friday night to improve the handling of the car and we knew we were on the edge of legality. Officials advised us that corrective action was needed, which we tried to do, but to no avail. We ran out of time to respect our rank for the qualifying session,” he said.
Labbé was to start from 12th position for his solo lap, but it was too late to show up. He was eventually told to close the books. Five other pilots suffered the same fate.
“It's very frustrating to go through such a situation,” said Labbé. Especially since I am convinced that I would have driven faster than some drivers who managed to secure their place on the starting grid. »
Alex Labbé said he was saddened for his Quebec partners to have missed his qualification for the Daytona race on Saturday afternoon.
Too bad for its partners
For the duration of the first stage of qualifying, Labbé remained strapped to his seat in his garage hoping that NASCAR would allow him to hit the track despite his delay. It was banned. End of broadcasts.
Unlike most of the drivers on the grid, Labbé was not guaranteed to start because the DGM team preferred to transfer his points accumulated last year to the American Josh Williams, who runs full-time for this team.
Money is everything. The eternal debate in motor racing.
“I am disappointed personally, but also saddened for my partners [all Quebec companies] who allowed me to try my luck this year at Daytona . We deserved a better fate,” Labbé concluded. secured 34th place in the qualifying session.