Inaugural Race at Iowa Speedway Produces a Top-10 Finish for the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team (August 1, 2009) Newton, IA. & ...
Inaugural Race at Iowa Speedway Produces a Top-10 Finish for the America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team
(August 1, 2009) Newton, IA. This weekend marked the 23rd race of the 2009 season and the first race held in Iowa. The track created by former Sprint Cup legend Rusty Wallace met everyone's expectations as the racing was filled with non-stop action. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Camry was fast from the start and the results proved it as the No. 11 posted a ninth place finish. The top-10 finish marked the fourth one for the team this season.
After a streak of bad luck, the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team was looking to turn things around and come out of Iowa with a strong showing. When an extended practice/test session occurred Thursday afternoon it became apparent that the No. 11 team would be a force to be reckoned with. After 127 laps, the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was 15th quickest on the board and happy with the handling of the car.
Friday's schedule would return to a normal day of events with two practice sessions. Lagasse Jr. posted the third quickest time in the first session with a 23.556 second lap, 133.724 mph. That was followed up with a 16th place posting on the board in the final practice session; 23.765 seconds, 132.548 mph.
As a sold out crowd entered the race track early Saturday morning, the anticipation mounted for the inaugural event to get underway. First on the schedule was qualifying. 50 cars were attempting to make the 43-car field. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Camry would find itself in the 17th position when qualifying came to a close.
"The car is really good," stated Lagasse Jr. "I had hoped for a better qualifying run but I have no doubt we'll be a strong contender come race time."
When the green flag waved for the U.S. Cellular 250, Lagasse Jr. and 42 other Nationwide Series drivers got ready for some nonstop excitement.
The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota ran up in the top-15 until a tight handling condition plagued the car. Lagasse Jr. reported in, "I'm really tight center and off" on lap 30. Relief was soon to follow as a caution flag flew on lap 39 and crew chief Paul Wolfe called the No. 11 to pit road. Pit strategy played a part in the initial stop of the day as the CJM Racing pit crew quickly changed two tires, added Sunoco fuel and made a track bar adjustment.
The strategy would find the No. 11 in the 11th position on the restart.
Lagasse Jr. was able to maintain a solid placing in the field as the 250-lap event continued. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota ran as high as sixth and as low as 22nd during the event. Three more pit stops took place on laps 76, 146 and 217. Aside from new tires and fuel, adjustments were made for a tight handling race car and ranged from air pressure to track bar.
12 caution flags waved during the inaugural event as cars spun out of control around the .875-mile facility. Lagasse Jr. was able to avoid the on-track melee with some aggressive maneuvering thanks to his spotter making some quick calls above.
As the laps began to dwindle down, the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota was sitting just outside of the top-10. In the final pit stop, strategy again fell into place and the No. 11 machine only took two tires and a splash of fuel. The quick stop placed Lagasse Jr. in prime position on the restart as he sat sixth.
In the remaining 10 laps, the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota Camry fell a few positions in the field but was able to bring home a solid finish landing in the ninth position.
Iowa marked the last scheduled race for Lagasse Jr. in the No. 11 CJM Racing entry.
"It's bittersweet. I'm happy with a top-10 but obviously disappointed that I won't be back in the car next weekend," remarked Lagasse Jr. "This is a great group of guys and I've learned so much this season. I'm sorry it has to come to an end."
Denny Hamlin will be in the No. 11 CJM Racing/Ridemakerz Toyota Camry next weekend at Watkins Glen and then again in Michigan.