By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – The Drive for the Cure 200 had more potential for Alex Labbe than what transpired. The DGM Racing driver had a career-best qualifying effort before losing everything on the opening lap.
On the final run of the race, Labbe’s No. 36 Larue / Cyclops Gear Chevrolet Camaro SS was in the middle of one of the only multi-car scrambles on track. He battled with Playoff Grid drivers Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Ross Chastain, and Ryan Reed. Despite his best efforts, Labbe took the checkered flag in 13th.
“The car was really badass,” Labbe said. “I think we’ll have to keep it off the track (for next year). The whole weekend was awesome. Every practice session we were in the top-10. It’s just a shame, every time it seems like we have a decent run, we just have bad luck.”
Coming to complete the opening lap, Labbe’s Chevrolet lost power. Exiting turns 16 and 17, the axle cap broke off, allowing the rear axle to slide out of the car. After being pushed back to pit road, Labbe’s Mario Gosselin-led team quickly made repairs, losing just one lap. The St. Albert, Quebec, Canada native finally moved back onto the lead lap, receiving the free pass on lap 35 after a multi-car pile-up.
“It was a long day,” Labbe added. “We had really good speed in our Larue / Cyclops Gear car. I just couldn’t rebound. Every time we had a stage ended, a guy got lapped and we couldn’t get the lucky dog. So, we didn’t get the lucky dog until a couple of laps into the last stage. It would have been fun to get that earlier to get into a spot where we could gain positions.
“I think we had a really good run, showed that we belong out there. I just wished that we had gotten a top-five, top-seven for our team because that’s the speed we had today.”
In qualifying, Labbe turned heads on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. On the 2.28-mile course, he was second-fastest in the first round and ended fifth when qualifying was over.
“I would have liked to stay out there (in the top-five) a little longer,” Labbe continued. “I didn’t even do a lap out there before I lost an axle cap. It’s part of the game. I felt a little vibration at the end of my qualifying lap. I don’t know if that’s where it came from. Sometimes it’s a tire vibration or you think it’s a tire, but it is what it is. We are just going to rebound and come back.”
Labbe’s 13th-place finish is his best finish since his first career top-10 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course earlier this season. He remains 16th in the Championship Points Standings.