TOP-20 FINISH ENSURES POINTS CLIMB FOR ASK.COM TEAM MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 29, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com team secured a 16th-place finish in yesterday's Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The Hall of...
TOP-20 FINISH ENSURES POINTS CLIMB FOR ASK.COM TEAM
MARTINSVILLE, VA. (March 29, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com team secured a 16th-place finish in yesterday's Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The Hall of Fame entry climbed four positions in points due to the effort.
Labonte began his sixth race of the season 23rd after rain stifled qualifying rounds on Friday. Clear skies allowed the green flag to fly at 2:16 p.m. amongst an estimated crowd of 96,000 fans.
Labonte immediately reported the car to be tight in the center of the turns at the .526-mile paper-clip-shaped oval. With strategy in place, the Ask.com team made use of the scheduled competition caution at lap 40. Crew chief Todd Parrott radioed for Labonte to pit for adjustments, four tires and fuel.
A series of cautions allowed the Ask.com team to make additional adjustments to the car while Labonte began to climb positions. Debris on the track brought out a caution at lap 353 and the field turned down pit road. Parrott, with points strategy in mind, kept the No. 96 on the track and Labonte led lap 355. After pitting, Labonte restarted in 18th position.
With only 24 laps to go in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500, Labonte spun in turn four and the No. 96 brushed the wall and collided with the No. 1 machine driven by Martin Truex Jr. Labonte brought the car down pit road and the Ask.com team scrambled to make repairs. Labonte rejoined the field in 17th position as many cars were a lap down.
Damage to the car seemed minor as Labonte continued to pass several cars on the track. As the checkered flag flew, Labonte had raced his way to a solid finish for the day in 16th position -- the second-highest finishing Ford in the race.
"We fought tight all day so finishing 16th was a good day for us," said Labonte. "We've got some work to do to get better. That late race spin cost us a few positions; we could have finished in the top 15 but we'll get there. I've got a lot of confidence in these guys."