Labbe is Menard's new crew chief

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Richard "Slugger" Labbe will serve as the new crew chief for Paul Menard.

Labbe left his position at TRG Motorsports last week to join what will be Richard Petty Motorsports when the merger with Yates Racing is completed.

He began work at RPM last Friday in the Concord, N.C., shop and already is preparing Fords for the 2010 season.

He will join a team that finished 31st in points last season.

It is a homecoming of sorts for Labbe, who worked out of then Robert Yates Racing's Concord shop from 1998-2001, helping the late Kenny Irwin Jr. win Rookie of the Year honors in 1998.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.