Survival of the Fittest at Lowe's; Lagasse Jr. Finishes 13th (October 10, 2008) Concord, NC -- After a week off the NASCAR Nationwide Series looked forward to getting back to the track, particularly CJM Racing and new driver Scott Lagasse Jr.
Survival of the Fittest at Lowe's; Lagasse Jr. Finishes 13th
(October 10, 2008) Concord, NC -- After a week off the NASCAR Nationwide Series looked forward to getting back to the track, particularly CJM Racing and new driver Scott Lagasse Jr. In just their second week together, the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team and Lagasse Jr. brought home a solid 20th place finish at Kansas Speedway two weeks prior. The team hoped to continue the momentum heading into Lowe's Motor Speedway and they did just that. Lagasse Jr. finished out an evening filled with cautions and red flags in the 13th position; marking his highest career finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The 2008 season has presented a lot of challenges to NASCAR when it comes to the weather. The 31st race of the year at Lowe's Motor Speedway would follow suit. The weather forecast called for a 40% chance of rain on Thursday and a 20% on Friday. Unfortunately the percentages didn't work in the teams favor. A slight drizzle fell over the track on Thursday afternoon cutting first practice short and eventually canceling final practice. NASCAR made the proper adjustments and 53-teams entered the track early Friday morning for another chance to practice, qualify and race.
Friday appeared promising for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team and for the impending weather. Lagasse Jr, hit the track at 10 am for an hour practice session in which the team focused on race trim. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet ran a 30.366 second lap, 177.830 mph for a 29th posting on the board. Later that afternoon, Lagasse Jr. posted an impressive qualifying run. Going up against 52 other cars for qualifying position, Lagasse Jr. made an aggressive charge around the track and placed the No. 11 machine in the 13th position for the Dollar General 300.
As day turned into night, the skies became a grey color and suddenly weather started to become a concern. Teams began to talk about strategy in fear that the 200-lap race would be cut short due to rain showers. The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team had their game plan intact calling for two-tire stops and fuel only stops if needed.
The green flag waved at 8:16 pm and the Dollar General 300 got underway. The green flag action would be cut short abruptly as the caution flag waved on lap one for an on-track accident. That would not be the last caution flag of the evening as NASCAR dropped the yellow flag 13 times for carnage occurring out on the race track. To add to the on-track incidents, Mother Nature stepped in to cause two red flag situations throughout the evening for rain.
Lagasse Jr. endured all that was going on around him and ran up in the top-15 for the majority of the race. He was scored as low as the 30th position in the opening laps due a prolonged pit stop but made up ground quickly to run consistent times and make his way up to the 11th position by the end of the evening.
The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet suffered from a tight handling position for the first half of the race. Lagasse Jr. brought the No. 11 down pit road a total of three times by lap 97 for adjustments ranging from track bar, air pressure, wedge and to top off with fuel. The tight handling condition did hamper the America's Incredible Pizza Company race car from making a charge to the front early on and Lagasse Jr. actually fell a lap down during the first half of the race.
The combination of adjustments, strategy and caution flags enabled Lagasse Jr. to get his lap back on lap 99. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet would not look back for the rest of the evening. The handling woes slowly dissipated and Lagasse Jr. was able to focus on finding the right groove.
A total of eight pit stops were made throughout the Dollar General 300. Everything from handling adjustments, to pulling out the right fender from an on-track bump with Jason Leffler, to fuel only stops occurred.
After four hours of determination and endurance, the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Lagasse Jr. ran a stellar race. The driver brought the No. 11 machine safely across the finish line in the 13th position and posted his best career finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
"That was a long race and a lot of work tonight. It's funny to think how much work we put into it and we finished right where we started," stated Lagasse Jr. "I'm happy overall. The guys got the car handling good and we managed to avoid the cars wrecking out on the race track. We've made a lot of progress in a short amount of time and hopefully this momentum will continue for the rest of the season."