Richard Childress Racing
MRN.com: Menard, Labbe Happy Together
January 29, 2014
Paul Menard and crew chief Slugger Labbe are looking for big things from their fifth season working together in 2014.
Only Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus (13th season) and Kasey Kahne and Kenny Francis (ninth year) have been paired together longer than the Richard Childress racing duo.
Menard attributes the longevity to a simple explanation.
“We trust each other,” Menard said Tuesday during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. “There’s a comfort level working with one another and we balance each other out personality wise. I think those are the main reasons we’ve been together as long as we have been.
“And it’s not just the relationship we have but throughout the entire team. Slugger brings great leadership as well that helps create and solid chemistry with everyone on our team. But he and I just have that connection that is so important between a crew chief and a driver.”
Menard and Labbe first worked together as members of Richard Petty Motorsports. They moved to RCR in 2011 and were able to win the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis that season.
But since that highlight there have been more struggles than successes for the No. 27 team. However Menard feels optimistic about what lies ahead in 2014 and the possibility of making the Chase.
“Well number one is make the Chase,” Menard said summing up the team’s goals for the season. “That’s what we’ve said the last few years, now with the different Chase rules even more important to make the Chase. We’ve come close the last previous three years going into Richmond we’ve been in the hunt, been in contention.
“This year’s our year to do it.”
Although the exact details on how NASCAR will change the Chase format won’t be officially known until Thursday, speculation is that winning a race in the regular season will automatically qualify drivers for the playoffs.
However according to Labbe even with a new system in place that may indeed reward winning more, getting to Victory Lane has always been the ultimate goal.
“Every week we want to win, that’s our goal,” said Labbe. “We don’t go there to finish fifth, we go there to win. If anybody goes there to finish fifth every week they’re in the wrong sport to me. Winning drives everybody.
“There may be some new rules and format changes and what have you, but for us it’s always about trying to win. It really doesn’t matter what the system is when you come down to it, when you win races you’ll be successful and that’s what we want to do.”
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