NASCAR Suspends Xfinity Series Car Chief for Indianapolis

Alex Labbe

Getty Alex Labbe races at Watkins Glen on Aug. 7.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to action on Saturday, Aug. 14, with a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, one driver will be without a key member of the team. NASCAR has suspended Joseph Keim, car chief of the No. 36 Chevrolet Camaro.

NASCAR announced the penalty on Tuesday, Aug. 10, announcing that the No. 36 team received a penalty according to Sections “Loss or separation of an improperly installed rear axle from the vehicle.” Alex Labbe, the driver of the No. 36 Chevrolet Camaro, lost his rear axle during the race at Watkins Glen International. He headed to the garage after 28 of the 82 laps, finishing 39th overall.

The lost rear axle marked the fourth DNF of Labbe’s 2021 season. He crashed in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, joining 16 other drivers that suffered damage to their stock cars, and finished 40th overall. Labbe also crashed during races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway, finishing 35th and 32nd respectively.

Labbe is currently in the midst of his third full-time season in the Xfinity Series. He turned in a career year in 2020, racking up five top-10 finishes and one top-five, a fourth-place run at the Charlotte Roval. Labbe has one top-10 run so far in 2021, a 10th-place finish at Darlington Raceway during Throwback Weekend.

Labbe Will Strive To Surpass His 2020 Performance at IMS

Losing his car chief for the race will not be ideal for Labbe, but it will not impact his overall goal of contending for the win. He will fight for the checkered flag at a track where he had a previous strong performance.

Labbe joined his fellow drivers on July 4, 2020, for the first-ever Xfinity Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He started in the back half of the field, 22nd overall, but quickly began to make some moves at the right time. Labbe raced his way to a top-10 finish and ended the day eighth overall while Chase Briscoe captured the checkered flag.

The 2021 trip to Indianapolis will provide Labbe with some early opportunities to reacquaint himself with the road course. He will have the added benefit of practice sessions on Friday, Aug. 13, and a qualifying lap the morning of the race. He can set himself up near the front of the starting order early and then focus on keeping his spot before the final stage.

NASCAR Issued Multiple Penalties After Watkins Glen

Brandon Jones

GettyBrandon Jones races at Watkins Glen.

The suspension of Keim is the harshest penalty issued after the race weekend at Watkins Glen International, but it was not the only one. According to “Motorsport,” NASCAR also issued monetary fines to multiple teams and crew chiefs.

The sanctioning body issued two fines after a post-race inspection revealed a loose lugnut on Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry and Anthony Alfredo’s No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang. Busch’s crew chief Ben Beshore and Alfredo’s crew chief Seth Barbour each had to pay $10,000 for the infraction.

Two Xfinity Series teams also received fines due to loose lugnuts. The two teams were the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Crew chiefs Chris Gayle (Ty Gibbs) and Jeff Meendering (Brandon Jones) each had to pay $5,000.

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