Slugger Labbe to serve last race as Paul Menard’s crew chief this Sunday at Kansas

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Richard “Slugger” Labbe will step aside as Paul Menard’s crew chief, effective following this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.

Labbe will remain with Richard Childress Racing and take a leadership role in research and development, according to SportingNews.com.

Justin Alexander, who has served as race engineer for the No. 27 team, will assume his new role as Menard’s crew chief at Talladega.

“I’m looking forward to slowing down in my NASCAR career a little bit and spending more time with my family,” Labbe said in a team media release. “This is a good move for RCR, Paul and the No. 27 team and I’m going to be there to help Justin with the upcoming transition.

“With NASCAR’s new rules for 2015, this is a unique opportunity for me to help RCR grow and be successful by helping out with their R&D efforts.”

Labbe has been Menard’s crew chief since 2010. The pair combined to earn Menard’s first and only Sprint Cup victory in the 2011 Brickyard 400, as well as 13 top-10 and 43 top-10 finishes.

Menard is currently 20th in the Sprint Cup standings.

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Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.