Dover: Bobby Labonte race report

LABONTE PENALIZED ON PIT ROAD IN DOVER, FINISHES 28TH DOVER, DEL. (May 31, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte, in the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, raced his way to a 28th-place finish in yesterday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway after ...

Dover: Bobby Labonte race report

LABONTE PENALIZED ON PIT ROAD IN DOVER, FINISHES 28TH

DOVER, DEL. (May 31, 2009) -- Bobby Labonte, in the No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, raced his way to a 28th-place finish in yesterday's Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway after penalties on pit road forced Labonte three laps down. Labonte, who ran among the top 10 earlier in the event, was one of 22 cars to not finish on the lead lap in Sunday afternoon's event.

The green flag flew at 2:17 p.m. in Dover, Del. After a difficult qualifying run on Friday afternoon, Labonte began the race 27th before a crowd of 100,000. The No. 96 Ask.com Ford Fusion, sporting Autism Speaks quarter panel decals, immediately began to climb through the field of 43 cars.

A scheduled competition caution brought out the yellow flag at lap 30 and crew chief Ben Leslie gambled for track position calling for only two tires and a top-off on fuel. Labonte gained 10 positions on the field with the maneuver and took the green flag in 14th position.

Shortly thereafter, another caution at lap 44 for debris opened pit road but Leslie kept Labonte on track scored in 7th position. By lap 100, the No. 96 Ask.com Ford was displaying lap times four-tenths faster than the leaders and with no cautions underway, cars began coming down pit road for green-flag pit stops by lap 105. Labonte, now running low on Sunoco fuel, came down pit road on lap 108 but was reprimanded for speeding on pit road. The penalty required Labonte to come back to pit road traveling at the appropriate pit-road speed as green-flag laps continued. Labonte would rejoin the field after the penalty in 34th position, three laps behind the leaders with 290 laps to go in the Autism Speaks 400.

Eight more cautions in the event brought Labonte and his Ford down pit road for adjustments, Sunoco fuel and Goodyear tires. He was able to gain six positions on the field and finish 28th for the day.

"It was just unfortunate," said Labonte after the race, "We had a top-10 car. We made good decisions and had the track position to finish in the top-10. My Ask.com Ford Fusion was fast and while we did fight it being loose and tight here or there, it was a good car. I'm really pretty ticked it didn't work out better for us."

Labonte and the No. 96 Ask.com team will race at Pocono Raceway next weekend in the Pocono 500. SPEED and MRN will carry the race live beginning at 12:30 p.m. EDT.

-credit: hofr

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