Alex Labbe is ready to prove himself against the best of the best in short track racing.
Labbe, of Saint-Albert, Quebec, will be making his second career start in the Florida Governor’s Cup at New Smyrna Speedway this weekend. With a Super Late Model program that he’s taken to the next level since a strong performance at the Governor’s Cup in 2013, winning is the only thing on the Canadian driver’s mind as he heads to the Sunshine State.
“That’s the main goal,” Labbe told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’d like to pick up the win. I think we have a pretty good shot at it. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but our goal is to go win it. We’ve worked hard on it all year and I’m pretty sure we have a good shot at it.
“They’re the best of the best down there. You have names like Augie Grill and Stephen Nasse. They’re really strong down there. You’ve got Bubba Pollard. It would really mean the world to me to go down there and prove myself against those guys. They’re the toughest short track racers in North America for sure.”
In 2013, Labbe led seven laps of the Governor’s Cup 200 before being penalized for jumping a restart and finishing seventh. Since his trip to New Smyrna for last year’s event, Labbe believes his Super Late Model program has improved tremendously. His performance this season competing north of the border in Quebec backs up his beliefs.
In addition to winning the 2014 Serie ACT championship in his No. 48 Larue Motorsports Late Model, Labbe picked up PASS North Super Late Model wins at Autodrome Chaudière (QC) and Autodrome Montmagny (QC), as well as a runner-up finish to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch at Chaudière in August.
“Last year we ran the Governor’s Cup and we ran pretty well,” said Labbe. “We ran with Augie Grill, Johnny VanDoorn and all of those guys up front. We just couldn’t close the deal on the second set of tires and had to start at the back after the restart penalty. I’m pretty sure this year is going to be even better because we’ve really stepped up our program and my Super Late Model is way better than last year.”
Labbe and his team brought their No. 36 Super Late Model down to Florida earlier this month in hopes of testing setups for the Governor’s Cup. Rain cancelled their test session after 10 laps, but Labbe remains confident that his team will have enough time to dial the car in for one of Florida’s biggest short track races.
“Not a lot of testing, but I’m pretty confident,” said Labbe. “Pretty confident the car is going to be good. We’ll have a little bit of testing on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. I’m pretty sure we’re going to be okay.”
Although Labbe’s main goal this weekend is to bring the Florida Governor’s Cup back to his home province of Quebec, he is using the race to see how he matches up against some of the best of the best in Southeast Super Late Model racing. If all goes well, Labbe hopes to be making another trip to Florida in a few weeks for the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola.
“I just want to see how good we are compared to these guys down there and see if we have a shot at the Snowball Derby,” Labbe said on Monday morning. “We’re going to figure it out this weekend depending upon how good we run. I would like to run the Snowball. I went last year and we really weren’t prepared. It was the first time I had been there and we didn’t have a lot of testing.
“This year if I go down there I want to make sure I’m ready and my Super Late Model program is on top. I just want to be competitive with these guys because they’re really tough. You really need to be on top of your program and that’s what we’ll figure out this weekend.”
Exactly what kind of results is Labbe looking for in order to file his entry for the 47th Annual Snowball Derby?
“A win would make it much easier,” Labbe said with a laugh. “We just need to figure out if we can run with these guys up front and how our car is running. That will help us make a decision after the race, but I’m sure a win would make the decision much easier.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Featured Photo Credit: Speed51.com