Top-15 Finish Marred by Late Race Penalty; Lagasse Jr. Finishes 20th (November 8, 2008) Avondale, AZ -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series headed out west for the final time this season and the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team's...
Top-15 Finish Marred by Late Race Penalty; Lagasse Jr. Finishes 20th
(November 8, 2008) Avondale, AZ -- The NASCAR Nationwide Series headed out west for the final time this season and the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team's presence was undeniable. Lagasse Jr. was strong in practice and went on to post his career best qualifying effort of seventh on Saturday. For 190-laps Lagasse Jr. ran up in the top-15 and was set to finish in the 14th position until NASCAR penalized the team for improper blending on a final pit stop. The team would have to settle for a 20th place finish at the day's end.
The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team has seen a lot of changes in 33 races this season but throughout it all they have proven to be a top contender. Coming into Phoenix reaffirmed that as Lagasse Jr. posted some strong times in practice on Friday. In the first session, the No. 11 ran a 28.067 second lap, 128.265 mph for a 19th place position on the board. With some slight adjustments the team was able to alleviate any handling concerns and put Lagasse Jr. ninth on the board in final practice.
The strong practice lap was carried over into qualifying Saturday morning. The No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet ran a lightning fast lap and wound up in the seventh place position after 50 cars made a qualifying attempt.
"I left a little out on the race track but I'm extremely happy with the way the car is handling'" remarked Lagasse Jr. "I'm excited to get this race started and hopefully bring home a top-10 finish."
Under bright and sunny skies. 43-cars took the green flag Saturday afternoon for 200-laps of racing. Just a few laps in, the No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet began to fall back in the field. Lagasse Jr. reported in a loose handling condition on lap 15.
Relief would be quick to follow as the caution flag flew on lap 22 and Lagasse Jr. was called to pit road. After a four tire stop and some air pressure adjustments, the No. 11 restarted in the 17th position.
Under green flag conditions the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet was running laps consistent with the top-10. Unfortunately the green flag runs would be few and far between as the caution flag would be displayed nine times for on-track incidents. Lagasse Jr. was able to stay away from the carnage out on the track and power his way into the top-15 by lap 85.
Four pit stops were made throughout the event for a grip issue. Despite the handling woes and cautions, Lagasse Jr. displayed some strong times out on the track and never fell out of the top-15 for the remainder of the race.
It wasn't until the final pit stop on lap 195 that the strong run turned into misfortune. Lagasse Jr. came down pit road for four tires in hopes of returning to the track with an upper hand having fresh tires. When the race resumed under green/white/checkered conditions, the America's Incredible Pizza Company made a final charge to the front and gained multiple positions to cross the finish line in 14th. The top-15 celebration would be cut short not too long after as NASCAR spoke to crew chief Mike Sibley and reported that the team was penalized and would have to settle for a 20th place finish. According to NASCAR the America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet blended into the field improperly on the final pit stop and started in the wrong order on the restart.
"I was surprised when I found out about the penalty. It wasn't intentional," explained Lagasse Jr. "We had a top-15 car but the results show otherwise. We had a great car and I'm very happy with the direction this team is heading in. We'll get them in Homestead."