New crew chief for Paul Menard prepared for Talladega RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today TALLADEGA, Ala. – Justin Alexander makes his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway as a crew chief. Alexander, 33, is replacing Richard "Slugger" Labbe atop the pit box for the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 team with driver Paul Menard . "I've been looking forward to this for a long time," Alexander said Saturday at the 2.66-mile track. "It's a special opportunity." A Charlotte native, Alexander worked in several roles at Hendrick Motorsports before making the move to RCR before the start of the 2014 season. He served as a shock specialist for the teams of drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in 2003 before moving into the role of lead engineer for Johnson's No. 48 team in '05. He spent the '06 season as an R&D engineer at Hendrick, then was named lead engineer for Gordon’s No. 24 organization in '09. "It's all the same; just different organizations," Alexander said. "I learned a lot at Hendrick and that prepared me a lot for what I'm doing right now. It's just a really good preparation. But really, the same things apply. Nothing is really that different. It's just organizational stuff. "I've worked with Chad (Knaus) and Steve Letarte and I've learned a lot from those guys. They both have different styles in doing things. And honestly, you don't really know until you get to this position to how you're going to run things. But I have my own way and it's not like anybody else’s. But I'm learning as I go a little bit and so I'm looking forward to it." Knaus has won six championships with Johnson while Letarte served as Gordon's crew chief before taking over the same role with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . Alexander holds a mechanical engineering degree from North Carolina State University. Although the racing can be intense at Talladega, he said it's a "good place" to make his debut. "Talladega is not too terribly intensive on the set-ups of the cars, so to speak, and changes on pit road," Alexander said. "From that standpoint, it makes it a little bit easier. "But really, anywhere, I think I'd be fine. But Talladega is a good place to start." Labbe will oversee the research and development program at RCR. The car chief for Terry Labonte 's championship-winning team in 1996, Labbe won five races as crew chief. Among those victories were the 2003 Daytona 500 with Michael Waltrip and the 2011 Brickyard 400 with Menard. Menard enters Sunday's GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Talladega 21st in points. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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