DISAPPOINTING NIGHT FOR LABONTE AND NO. 96 ASK.COM TEAM AT BRISTOL Bristol Motor Speedway under the lights on a Saturday night is a thrilling spectacle for fans and drivers alike. From the pre-race show to 500 laps of beating and banging, the ...
DISAPPOINTING NIGHT FOR LABONTE AND NO. 96 ASK.COM TEAM AT BRISTOL
Bristol Motor Speedway under the lights on a Saturday night is a thrilling spectacle for fans and drivers alike. From the pre-race show to 500 laps of beating and banging, the Sharpie 500 was an incredible event and Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion team were as excited and eager to go racing as anyone. Despite struggling to find speed during both of Friday's practice sessions, the team qualified 20th and were looking to pull off a strong finish. Throughout the first 150 laps Labonte inched his way through the field and climbed up the leader board to 15th position. The No. 96 looked to be well on it's way to a top finish when on lap 166 while racing with the No. 11 car, Labonte's Ford got loose and spun on the frontstretch. The Ask.com Ford was taken behind the wall for repairs and returned to the track on lap 200. Labonte completed the race 39 laps down in 36th position.
Pole winner Mark Martin led the 43-car field to the green flag and soon the .533-mile track resembled rush hour traffic in New York City. Labonte held his own though and made his way to 14th position by his first pit stop under caution on lap 65. Since Labonte reported that his Ford was handling "tight in the center", crew chief Ben Leslie called for an air pressure adjustment to fix the handling issues. After the 96 crew bolted on four tires and filled Labonte's Ford with fuel, he rejoined the race on lap 69 in 15th place.
Over the next run, the handling issues persisted and Labonte fell back to 17th place. On lap 135 the No. 96 Ask.com Ford was again on pit road, this time for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Labonte restarted the race on lap 140 in 17th position.
Working to make up track position, Labonte hammered down on the restart, only to find opposition from the No. 11 car. The two raced hard for several laps and ultimately Labonte's Ford was sent spinning on the frontstretch - The Ask.com Ford incurred enough damages to be taken behind the wall.
After some major body work to the No. 96, Labonte returned to the track on lap 200. He was several laps down to the leaders. For the remainder of the race Labonte held his own and took the checkers in 36th place, 39 laps down.
Kyle Busch held off Mark Martin for the win. Marcos Ambrose ran third, followed by Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman. Kurt Busch came home seventh, followed by Jimmie Johnson. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished ninth, and Matt Kenseth was 10th.
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009
7:00 p.m. (EST) ESPN television and PRN radio