CJM Racing Finishes 18th on the High Banks of Daytona Working Against the Odds at Daytona; the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Finishes 18th (July 3, 2009) Daytona Beach, Fl - Heading south to Daytona Beach, Fl meant a lot of different...
CJM Racing Finishes 18th on the High Banks of Daytona
Working Against the Odds at Daytona; the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Finishes 18th
(July 3, 2009) Daytona Beach, Fl - Heading south to Daytona Beach, Fl meant a lot of different things for teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It marks the halfway point of the 2009 season, the last superspeedway race of the season, the beginning of double-file restarts and for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team, an opportunity to back up their last top-10 finish which came at a restrictor plate race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The team unloaded chassis No. 13 early Wednesday morning for technical inspection. This is the same chassis the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team brought home an eighth place finish at Talladega just a few months prior.
Back at the race track late Thursday morning, 46 cars hit the track for two practice sessions. The No. 11 Toyota Camry found its stride out on the race track in the final session and was creeping into the top-10 until an on-track altercation with the No. 66 car send Lagasse Jr. spinning out on the race track. The damage was too severe to repair causing the team to have to pull out a back-up car which was a brand new chassis.
The America's Incredible Pizza Company back-up car had never seen any track time before so when Lagasse Jr. took his qualifying laps Friday afternoon they would be a first for the race car. The end result was a 38th place qualifying position for the night race on the high banks of Daytona.
"Of course we wish we would have qualified better," explained Lagasse Jr. "Fortunately Daytona is one of those tracks where you can start at the back and be running top-five within a couple laps. You just need to be aware of your surroundings and not get caught up in someone else's mess."
As the sun began to set and temperatures began to cool slightly, the Subway Jalapeno 250 got underway for a 100-lap shootout. Despite fighting a free in handling condition in the opening laps, Lagasse Jr. was able to gain 12 positions when the first caution flag flew on lap nine.
Under caution it quickly became apparent that the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was damaged from checking up to avoid the accident occurring towards the front of the field. Lagasse Jr. suffered a flat tire and front end damage due to getting into the back of the No. 40 car. The No. 11 was brought down pit road three times for tires, fuel and extensive work to repair the front end.
Restarting from the 40th position, the No. 11 machine began to pick off spots one-by-one. When the caution flag waved again on lap 44, the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was displayed in the 22nd position. A quick pit stop was made by the crew that following lap and the No. 11 advanced four spots on pit road for Lagasse Jr. to restart 18th.
The laps continued and so did the charge to the front. At lap 75, the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota had broken into the top-10.
One last stop was made on lap 97 while running 16th (under caution) for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The race would now end under green/white/checkered conditions and with 23 cars on the lead lap it would be anyone's race to win.
Lagasse Jr. would find himself restarting in the 23rd position when the green flag dropped. Unfortunately the last pit stop strategy would not pay off as the caution flag waved just one-lap later and the field would be frozen. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was credited with the 18th spot when the Subway Jalapeno 250 ended.
"I felt like we turned things around tonight and the car was getting better as we went," Lagasse Jr. remarked. "The guys put in a lot of time and worked hard to get the back-up car to where it needed to be. If it wasn't for that final caution flag I think we would have been in a position for a top-10 finish. The laps just fell short for us."