Momentum Continues for the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team at Bristol (March 21, 2009) Bristol, Tenn. & ...
Momentum Continues for the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team at Bristol
(March 21, 2009) Bristol, Tenn. The NASCAR Nationwide Series was back in action this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Labeled as the "World's Fastest Half-Mile", this short track lives up to its reputation as fast paced, beating and banging, nonstop action. Raybestos rookie of the year contender, Lagasse Jr., came out strong in the initial practice session and that momentum carried over into the 300-lap shoot out on Saturday afternoon. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota produced some solid results and crossed the finish line in the 13th position.
The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team came into Bristol hoping to back up their strong finish from Las Vegas Motor Speedway just two weeks prior (ninth). It was immediately evident that the car was strong enough to become a top contender as Lagasse Jr. was able to place the No. 11 machine in the top-15 right off the truck. The America's Incredible Pizza Company was 12th on the board with a 15.803 second lap, 121.420 mph.
The times fell off slightly in final practice to place Lagasse Jr. in the mid-20's but that did not deter the team. The proper adjustments were made and the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team excelled from that moment on.
"The car was strong right from the start," explained Lagasse Jr. "We made some adjustments in the final practice session that didn't give us that advantage we had hoped for so we went back to the original set-up. In the end it was the right call because the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was able to run strong lap times and put us in a position to be in the top-15."
Lagasse Jr. made his first qualifying laps at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday morning as he was one of 52 cars trying to make the 43-car field. The rookie driver made a solid lap and placed the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Camry midfield in the 20th position for the start of the Scotts Turf Builder 300.
Later that afternoon, the anticipation and excitement started to rise as 43 drivers buckled into their race cars for two hours of race action.
The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota had a slight handling issue right after the green flag waved as Lagasse Jr. reported in, "the car is sliding the rear. I think we will be ok as the tire pressures start to come up."
The handling did start to come around and the No. 11 Toyota did not come down pit road for its first stop until lap 88 where the crew changed four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment to help the car roll better through the corners.
As the laps continued, Lagasse Jr. was running predominately up in the top-15 with impressive lap times. By the midway point, the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was 14th and had come down pit road twice (laps 88 and 139) for fresh tires, fuel and adjustments.
Throughout the closing half of the race, the crew worked hard to help Lagasse Jr. find the balance needed to keep the car running up front. The concern fell within the car needing to turn better in the corners. The two remaining pit stops were made on laps 187 and 253 for wedge and air pressure adjustments.
With the handling under control, the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota made some swift maneuvering in the final laps and avoided the on-track melee thanks to some quick calls from the spotter up above. When the checkered flag waved on lap 300, Lagasse Jr. crossed the finish line in the 13th position.
"I'm happy with the way things turned out," Lagasse Jr. remarked. "The guys put together a great race car and we did what we set out to do. The goal was to come in here quietly, take the car home in one piece and bring home a top-15. I can smile walking away from Bristol."
The NASCAR Nationwide Series will take another weekend off and resume racing at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 4th.