Texas: Scott Lagassee Jr race report

The America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team in the Top-10 after Texas (April 4, 2009) Ft. Worth, Tex. & ...

The America's Incredible Pizza Company Race Team in the Top-10 after Texas

(April 4, 2009) Ft. Worth, Tex. – The momentum continued for CJM Racing and the America's Incredible Pizza Company as they left the Lone Star State on Saturday. The team was able to endure some challenging conditions and keep on course for another solid finish during the O'Reilly 300. The 16th-place finish puts Lagasse Jr. 10th in the driver point battle after race five of the season.

The month of March didn't allow for a lot of race action for the NASCAR Nationwide Series so when teams entered into Texas the anticipation was high. 49 cars were vying for 43 spots and a chance to visit victory lane in Texas style. The America's Incredible Pizza Company race team was prepared for the battle.

Lagasse Jr. has always been a fan of the mile-and-a-half race tracks so Texas was a welcoming stop on the schedule.

"Texas is one of my favorite race tracks," remarked Lagasse Jr. "Between the atmosphere and the racing it's just a fun place to be."

The America's Incredible Pizza Company unloaded chassis No. 09 on Thursday, the same chassis that brought the team their first top-10 of the season at Las Vegas. Off the truck, the team battled a bit with the handling and very windy conditions but quickly turned it around and put the No. 11 machine 11th on the board after final practice with a 29.561 second lap, 182.673 mph.

Qualifying commenced on the same day as practice in the Nationwide Series and Lagasse Jr. was the 29th car to take his two laps. As the sun set behind the grandstands the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota ran a quick lap of 29.365 seconds. Good enough for 17th on the starting grid.

Teams enjoyed a full day off on Friday as the Nationwide Series garage was closed to all track activity. That day off did present a challenge to the teams though as they entered the garage area on Saturday morning. The Sprint Cup Series had two days of activity causing the condition of the race track and the amount of tire rubber on the race track to alter significantly. This transition wreaked havoc on the original set-up from Thursday afternoon's practice session and would present a challenge when the green flag waved.

As the O'Reilly 300 got underway, the America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota noticeably became a handful just a few laps in. Lagasse Jr. was battling a loose handling race car on a very slick race track.

The 200-lap event ran caution free until lap 66. Unfortunately, that gave race leader Kyle Busch the opportunity to start lapping the field by lap 20. The America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota became one of the victims on lap 51 as Busch passed Lagasse Jr. while running in the 12th position.

The team fought hard to get their lap back and address the handling concerns that plagued the Toyota Camry. Pit stops were made on laps 55, 68, 122 and 162 for a variety of adjustments. Track bar, wedge and air pressure played a major role in the changes to help find the proper balance in the race car.

By the halfway point, Lagasse Jr. was running consistent lap times and had secured a position in the top-15.

That consistency would not falter and the America's Incredible Pizza Company race team forged ahead for the second half of the race.

Despite the challenges, Lagasse Jr. brought the No. 11 safely across the finish line in the 16th position. The solid effort by the team and driver was enough to place CJM Racing in the top-10 driver point standings after race five of the season.

"I know it wasn't a top-10 finish but all things considered I'm happy with where we finished," Lagasse Jr. stated. "The track was completely different from practice on Thursday and the guys did a great job trying to help me get the car handling properly. We learned a lot and I'm looking forward to coming back in the fall."

The NASCAR Nationwide Series goes country next weekend as team's head to Nashville Superspeedway for the Pepsi 300.

-credit: cjm

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Drivers Scott Lagasse Jr. , Kyle Busch