UNFORTUNATE END FOR LABONTE AND ASK.COM TEAM IN SAMSUNG 500 JUSTIN, TEXAS (April 5, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com team had an unfortunate end to yesterday's Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway after being involved in a mid-race...
UNFORTUNATE END FOR LABONTE AND ASK.COM TEAM IN SAMSUNG 500
JUSTIN, TEXAS (April 5, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com team had an unfortunate end to yesterday's Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway after being involved in a mid-race accident, eliminating the team from the race and posting a 40th-place finish in the seventh event of the season.
After qualifying 24th on Friday, Labonte had high hopes leading into Sunday's race in his home state. The Corpus Christi native began the event at 2:16 p.m. as the wind whipped through the crowd of more than 178,000 fans.
The green flag brought immediate speed to Labonte and by lap three, the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion had gained four track positions. Labonte reported the car to be loose upon exiting the turns but held onto the car and settled in the 19th position. Crew chief Todd Parrot kept the No. 96 on the track in an effort to minimize loss of positions.
At lap 50, Parrott radioed Labonte down pit road and the Ask.com team made adjustments to the car. Labonte joined the field 22nd but a long green-flag run over the next 49 laps forced Labonte a lap down. Only 19 cars remained on the lead lap following the first 100 laps of the event.
Three additional pit stops gave Parrott opportunities to make adjustments to the car. Labonte reported the car to be a bit better before a difficult restart at lap 161 caused damage to the No. 96 car. The nose and right rear quarter panel showed significant damage, challenging the car's aerodynamics and slowing its speed. Labonte continued to race for track position.
After driving the damaged car for 51 laps, Labonte brought the No. 96 Hall of Fame entry down pit road for extensive repairs during a caution at lap 212. The No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion restarted the race 30th.
Trouble came soon thereafter. A spin by Sam Hornish Jr. forced Labonte into the turn-two wall to avoid hitting the No. 77 Hornish car. Lap 229 was the end of the Samsung 500 for the Ask.com team.
"That was a rough ending to the week," said Labonte. "We thought we had a lot going for us when we unloaded this weekend. We had some work to do but we were sure we could get a solid finish in today. It's really unfortunate that we got in the wall like that."
Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com team will look for better luck and a solid finish in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in two weeks.