Season Finale Cut Short for Lagasse Jr. at Homestead (November 15, 2008) Homestead, Fl. -- The 2008 season ended abruptly for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team as on-track patience wore short on lap 100 of the 200-mile event.
Season Finale Cut Short for Lagasse Jr. at Homestead
(November 15, 2008) Homestead, Fl. -- The 2008 season ended abruptly for the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team as on-track patience wore short on lap 100 of the 200-mile event. Lagasse Jr. fell victim to the circumstances and was forced to the garage early to place the No. 11 machine in the 37th position in the Ford 300.
The 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series came to a close in South Florida this weekend and the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team had one thing in mind; to give it all they had. The team worked feverishly from day one at practice till the very end in hopes of bettering Lagasse Jr.'s career best finish of 13th which occurred at a mile-and-a-half track similar to Homestead in October.
Under hot and humid skies, the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team unloaded chassis #08 for the final time. The crew quickly went to work and Lagasse Jr. prepared himself for his first showing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The No. 11 Chevrolet saw its first track time Friday afternoon as two practice sessions got underway. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet encountered a handling problem as soon as the first laps around the track were made. The crew quickly made aggressive adjustments in an effort to find more speed. Lagasse Jr. went on to post the 39th quickest time in race trim with a 33.315 second run, 162.089 mph.
53-cars lined up Saturday morning for qualifying. Lagasse Jr. hit the track 28th and laid down a solid lap to place the America's Incredible Pizza Company 20th in the field.
"We had a few challenges in practice but these guys worked hard to turn this car around. They made every adjustment possible to get us handling better out on the track," Lagasse Jr. remarked.
The green flag waved for the final time in the 2008 season just before the 5 o'clock hour. Lagasse Jr. held his own in the early going despite radioing in a loose handling condition on lap 2. With no caution flags immediately displayed, the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet stayed out on track and ran in the top-20 for the opening laps. As the handling worsened, the No. 11 slowly began to fall back in the field. On lap 30, spotter Jeremy Brickhouse reported in that the leaders where quickly approaching and Lagasse Jr. fell victim; going one lap down.
As the laps continued the leaders began to cycle through on lap 50 for green flag pit stops. The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team took advantage of the opportunity and came down for four tires, fuel, a track bar and air pressure adjustment. This would mark the first of four stops for the event. Three more were made on laps 66, 78, 91 for a front grip issue.
The adjustments soon began to pay off as Lagasse Jr. reported in that the car was headed in the right direction on lap 95. Five laps later that optimism turned into despair as Steven Wallace collided with the No. 11 machine on the backstretch. With nowhere to go, Hamlin was forced into the back of Lagasse Jr. causing the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet to make severe impact with the wall. Emergency workers quickly made their way to Lagasse Jr. and he reluctantly climbed out of the car. Placing the No. 11 in the 37th position at the end of the day.
"Well this wasn't the way we wanted to end our season. I'm not quiet sure what happened out there but I hate the fact that we tore up a race car. We were headed in the right direction after those pit stops and were trying to get our lap back," exclaimed Lagasse Jr.
In their first full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team finished 17th in owner points with 16 top-15 finishes. The team is looking forward to returning to the Nationwide Series in 2009 where they will be running Toyotas with technical assistance from Joe Gibbs Racing. Lagasse Jr. will return to compete for rookie of the year honors next season and new crew chief Paul Wolfe will be calling the shots.