ASK.COM TEAM FINISHES 20TH AT HOME TRACK; LABONTE SPINS OUT WHILE IN TOP-15 SONOMA, Calif. (June 21, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the Ask.com team finished 20th yesterday in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway after a spinout halfway...
ASK.COM TEAM FINISHES 20TH AT HOME TRACK; LABONTE SPINS OUT WHILE IN TOP-15
SONOMA, Calif. (June 21, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the Ask.com team finished 20th yesterday in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway after a spinout halfway through the 110-lap event removed Labonte from the top fifteen. Ask.com, headquartered in Oakland, Calif. had a large presence at its home track and the first road course race of the season.
After a competitive qualifying effort on Friday, Labonte began the Toyota/SaveMart 350 in 25th position with the stands near capacity at the 1.99-mile road course. With a fuel strategy in hand, crew chief Ben Leslie and Labonte conserved fuel in hopes to strategically place themselves in the top-five at lap 110.
The first caution of the day at lap 20 began the fuel mileage schedule and Leslie brought Labonte down pit road for tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. Many cars stayed out when pit road opened for the first time under the yellow flag and Labonte restarted in 26th position. Soon after, cars began to pit during green-flag laps and Labonte climbed several positions to run in the top-five.
Two additional pit stops allowed Leslie to implement the strategy he had planned for and with 47 laps to go, Labonte came down pit road for a top-off of Sunoco fuel. At this point, he was scored in 27th position and had enough fuel to complete the remaining laps. As green-flag laps continued, Labonte fought for track position and by lap 74 had climbed 12 positions, running 15th.
An unfortunate tap by a competitor sent the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion into a spin and Labonte was forced into the grass. Leslie brought Labonte down pit road to assess the damage to the Ford Fusion and place four fresh Goodyear tires on the car. Labonte climbed 16 positions from the back of the field to finish 20th.
"We had the car to finish in the top-five," said Labonte. "I think we made a lot of good decisions today and we had a great fuel mileage plan. It was a bad deal that we ended up spinning like that. I think you've just got to shake it off and hope that we have as competitive of a race car next weekend at Loudon. We did a lot of things right today, we just didn't end up where we should of."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will field the 17th race of the season next weekend for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. TNT and PRN will carry the race live beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT.