Race at Daytona Shorten due to a Mid-Race Incident Daytona Beach, Fl. -- Valentine's Day turned out not so sweet for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team. A promising run was cut short just past the midway point of the 120-lap...
Race at Daytona Shorten due to a Mid-Race Incident
Daytona Beach, Fl. -- Valentine's Day turned out not so sweet for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team. A promising run was cut short just past the midway point of the 120-lap high speed shootout. Lagasse Jr. became a victim of circumstance as an accident in front of him left him with nowhere to go and sent the No. 11 Toyota Camry back to the garage with 49 laps to go.
The 2009 NASCAR Nationwide series season-opener started out promising for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team as new chassis #07 was quick right from the start. In Lagasse Jr.'s Nationwide Series debut at Daytona, he was able to get right in the mix out on the track and post the quickest lap time out of 50 cars in the first practice session. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota posted a lap time of 49.003 second lap, 183.662 mph. That quick time was followed up with the fourth quickest time in the final practice the following day. The No. 11 ran a 49.026 second lap, 183.576 mph.
"We've got a real good race car. For us it's about gaining respect out there. We spent our time in practice drafting and running with a lot of Cup guys and trying to learn and gain some experience. I learned a lot," remarked Lagasse Jr.
Qualifying commenced Friday afternoon as 49 cars tried to make the Camping World 300. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota rolled out 25th and Lagasse Jr. went on to place a solid lap. The No. 11 machine would kick off the season in the 19th position for Saturday afternoon's race.
Anticipation ran high as the teams entered the garage area Saturday morning. This was the moment everyone had been waiting for. The moment where you see how all the hard work in the off-season has paid off.
The Camping World 300 got underway under bright and sunny skies Saturday afternoon at 1:34 pm. The green flag waved and the first race of the 2009 season started without a hitch. Each car made their way around the two and a half mile superspeedway as if it was race 30 on the 35 race schedule. Lagasse Jr. remained patient and calm picking and choosing other cars around the race track to draft with.
Radio transmission between driver and crew chief remained quiet until lap six when Lagasse Jr. reported in that the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Camry had become really tight. A few laps later the handling shifted slightly to tight on exit only.
The first pit stop occurred under caution on lap 28 when the crew quickly went to work and changed four tires, refueled and made a track bar adjustment to help alleviate the tight handling condition of the race car.
Back out on track, Lagasse Jr. was making his way through the field and by lap 39 the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was running in the 10th position. Unfortunately limited drafting help and a tight handling condition pushed the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate back a few spots to 21st before another pit stop was called. The No. 11 returned to pit road for four new tires, fuel and two rounds out of the left rear on lap 57.
Less than 15 laps later, the teams optimism was cut short while running in the 21st as the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota became a victim of circumstance. Two drivers had an on-track altercation in front of Lagasse Jr. causing him to collide with the No. 66 driven by Steve Wallace. The damage was so significant that it forced the team to end the day short and settle for a 43rd place finish at Daytona.
"I just saw a couple of guys getting together in front of me and tried to slow it down and just couldn't," explained Lagasse Jr. "I hate it for our guys. They built a great race car. After the way our practice and qualifying went I know this is not what we were expecting down here. We'll go to California and see what happens.