After winning the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Championship last year, Alex Labbe is taking the next step of his career, set to run the full NASCAR XFINITY Series.
The Canadian recently shared his thoughts with POPULAR SPEED’s Ashley McCubbin entering this weekend’s Rinnai 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into Atlanta this weekend?
ALEX LABBE: Looking forward to it. It’s going to be our first race at a mile and a half, and it’s going to be a kind of track that we’re going to race the most this year. Can’t wait to see what kind of speed we have there.
PS: What does it mean to you to get this opportunity to run the full NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule?
ALEX: It means a lot. It’s something that I’ve been working on all my career. It’s a dream come true, and I really want to make the most out of this opportunity. It’s going to be a great year.
PS: What are your goals and expectations for your rookie campaign?
ALEX: As a whole, we want to finish in the top-20 in points. I really want to get some strong runs throughout the year. I’m pretty sure we can go surprise people once and awhile this year, and that’s the main goal. Like I said earlier – we want to do the most with the opportunity that we’ve got and pull the most out of the car.
PS: What track are you most excited to get to?
ALEX: I don’t know. Probably a short track, because I’m more of a short track guy. It’ll be fun to go to a place like Bristol. It’s somewhere I’ve never been before. It’s a short track that I’ve always wanted to go run. There’s also places like Richmond, and even the road courses. Pretty much everything. I’m looking forward to it all as every week is a new challenge. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Atlanta is going to be a lot of fun- a fast mile and a half and the asphalt is pretty wore out, so you’ll lose a lot of grip quickly so it will be really challenging.
PS: What are your reflections on Daytona?
ALEX: I’m very satisfied, but at the same time, I’m a little sad about the ending result. We had a solid run going there, and running seventh going into the last three green-white-checkereds, holding our spot there, and ran out of the gas there. It’s a tough break. But we went out there, and we finished the race with the car in one piece; that’s what matters, and what we’re going to build on to get some solid runs to begin the year.
PS: You’ve had some time to reflect. What did it mean to you to win the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Championship last year?
ALEX: It meant a lot. It’s something that I’m always going to have with me. It’s also something that I’ve been working on for quite a bit. I mean, in 2012, we were making a deal to run the series full-time and now to win the championship in my second full season is pretty awesome. I mean, especially what it brought to me. I had a deal with my sponsor that if I won the championship last year that we were going to move on and run the full XFINITY Series schedule. So, it’s pretty special.
PS: Coming from the Pinty’s Series, what’s been the biggest surprise to you about the XFINITY Series?
ALEX: For now, I’ve only ran Daytona so it’s a pretty huge change. If I would compare to a short track, I would say that it’s probably not that big. But to go to a superspeedway, it’s a completely different world. Like I said, I can’t wait to go to the short tracks where I’m a lot more used to, and I think we can really surprise people there.
PS: Having Canada behind you and watching your success, what does it mean to have their support and inspire that next generation of racers?
ALEX: It means a lot. It’s fun to see the support from the Canadian fans. I mean, it was pretty insane especially last week in Daytona. I really felt there was a big part of Canada there. It’s pretty special. For sure, showing the way to the younger guys that want to get into stock cars, it’s good to show them that if you follow your dreams, you work hard, you can get there. You just have to work hard and I think I’ve followed a pretty standard route. I won a Late Model Championship, and I’ve won a Pinty’s Championship, and now I’m here in the XFINITY Series. So I mean, if you work hard and win some races, anything is possible.
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