LABONTE CLAIMS 11TH-PLACE FINISH IN FAMED SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE CONCORD, N.C. (May 16, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion claimed an 11th-place finish yesterday in the famed NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor ...
LABONTE CLAIMS 11TH-PLACE FINISH IN FAMED SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE
CONCORD, N.C. (May 16, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion claimed an 11th-place finish yesterday in the famed NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The event marked Labonte's 17th start in the uniquely segmented 100-lap race.
Labonte began the race from the seventh position after an impressive qualifying effort on Friday that included a four-tire pit stop. The 21 race cars eligible for the elite All-Star field took the green flag last night amongst a crowd of 145,000 at 9:20 p.m.
A 50-lap segment was the first fragment of the event and Labonte, from 12th position posted times equivalent to the top-five in the field. Labonte radioed to crew chief Ben Leslie at lap 20 that the car was loose coming in and tight in the center of the turns. Leslie brought the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion down pit road for a green-lap pit stop in an effort to increase the car's handling. The Ask.com crew had Labonte off pit road in 13.6 seconds and he rejoined the field in 16th position.
By lap 41 Labonte reported he was still fighting a tight race car and Leslie called for additional adjustments to the Ford Fusion. The scheduled red flag at lap 50 brought Labonte down pit road for a second round of adjustments, four tires and one can of gas. The No. 96 Ask.com Ford restarted the race in the 13th position.
The second segment of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race was a scheduled 20-lap sprint. Labonte reported to be loosing grip coming into turn one. He completed the segment in 18th position.
The second red flag brought Labonte down pit road for a third round of adjustments to the Ask.com Ford Fusion and with only 30 laps to go and two segments, Labonte took the green flag again at lap 71 scored in the 18th position.
Lost radio communication for a lap at the restart left Labonte fending for himself when a spin in the front of the field sent Greg Biffle to the garage for the evening. NASCAR would take the lap back and restart a second time at lap 71. With communication back on track, Labonte began to climb positions in the field running in 13th position and posting lap times equal to the leaders.
The last red flag of the night at lap 90 awarded each team 10 minutes to make adjustments to the cars and prepare for the 10-lap sprint for the checkered flag and the $1 million purse. Leslie radioed for one last round of adjustments to the Ford Fusion including several adjustments, four tires but no Sunoco fuel.
The last 10 laps of the race kept each team and all 145,000 fans on the edge of their seats as the now 20 cars raced for the legendary purse. Three cautions kept the field awaiting a restart as only green-flag laps would count in the segmented event. With only five laps remaining Labonte was scored in 11th position. Tony Stewart would pass Matt Kenseth with only two laps remaining and win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com team will again race at Lowe's Motor Speedway next weekend in the Coca-Cola 600. FOX network and PRN will carry the race live beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.
Lowe's Motor Speedway (1.5-mile speedway)
Sunday, May 24, 2009