A Late Race Incident Relegates the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team to the 22nd Position at Darlington Darlington, SC - The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team headed to the historic track "too tough to tame" Friday for some...
A Late Race Incident Relegates the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team to the 22nd Position at Darlington
Darlington, SC - The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team headed to the historic track "too tough to tame" Friday for some late night racing under the lights. Darlington marked the second year anniversary for CJM Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and would be a first for rookie of the year contender Scott Lagasse Jr. After a whirlwind race and a late race collision with a fellow competitor, the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team crossed the finish line in the 22nd position.
Darlington Raceway held its first race on Labor Day 1950 and holds a lot of memories with drivers such as Baker, Pearson, Yarborough, Petty, and Earnhardt landing themselves in victory lane. For CJM Racing, it marks the first race track the team ran a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at. Since then the team has entered into 61 races and has logged more than 11,000 laps with 11 top-10 finishes.
Raybestos rookie of the year contender, Scott Lagasse Jr, got his first glimpse of the "Lady in Black" Thursday afternoon as the teams entered the track for technical inspection. Some NASCAR veterans offered up some advice on how to get around the egg-shaped track and Lagasse Jr. took a golf cart out around the facility.
"This track is unlike any other track we go to on the circuit," remarked Lagasse Jr. "There is a certain respect and technique you have to have going into a track like this."
Friday morning 47 teams had their first opportunity to test out their skills in a two-and-a-half hour practice session. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Camry ran the 20th quickest time with a 28.963 second lap, 169.789 mph.
Later that afternoon a brief rain shower moved through the area and qualifying for the Nationwide Series was cancelled. Teams would line-up by owners points, landing the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota in the 13th qualifying position.
As the sun set and the lights illuminated the track, Lagasse Jr. focused on familiarizing himself with the race track and racing competitively. Multiple caution flags flew in the opening laps and with some quick calls from the spotter, the No. 11 was able to stay out of harm's way and race up in the top-15.
By lap 25, the handling became a concern as Lagasse Jr. reported in a "tight center and off" condition. Within 20 laps, the America's Incredible Pizza Company machine visited pit road for four fresh tires, fuel, a track bar and an air pressure adjustment.
Back out on the track, the No. 11 was running solid laps and was posted anywhere from the 18th to 14th position throughout the 147-lap event. A total of four pit stops were made during the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 for adjustments ranging from air pressure to wedge to track bar. The final pit stop of the night was unplanned and one that the team hated to see.
Lagasse Jr. was running in the 15th position in the closing laps when Scott Speed got a little over anxious and sent the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota into the wall. The damage to the car was significant but the crew worked on a temporary fix and was able to finish out the race. After a long, hot and challenging the day, the team was able to pull through with a 22nd place finish. The determination paid off and Lagasse Jr. moved up to eighth in the driver standings and CJM Racing is now posted 12th in the owner standings.
The NASCAR Nationwide series will enjoy an off-weekend next week. The next race will be in the team's backyard as they will race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 23rd at 7:00 pm (EST).