Monday, February 23, 2009

Ambrose Leaves California with 22nd-Place Finish in No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry

// Courtesy : Autostock Images //

Fontana, CA (February 22, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose started 14th and finished 22nd in the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway Sunday night with his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota Camry.
After completing 249 of 250 laps in the second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the 36-race season, Ambrose is currently 21st in the owner point standings with Las Vegas Motor Speedway next up on the schedule. 

“We had a better car than where we finished, but we’ll take that position and go on to Las Vegas,” Ambrose said. “We just got caught a lap down and never recovered from that.”
Ambrose started the 500-mile race by moving forward into 12th-place. Then rain started to fall on the two-mile D-shaped oval and NASCAR placed the field under caution at Lap 5 for 17 laps. Back under green, Ambrose maintained a top 15 run until he began to experience handling problems.

“The Little Debbie® Toyota was tight late when I got back into the gas,” Ambrose said.

When rain began to fall again and the caution flag waved for a second time, the JTG-Daugherty team pitted the No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota on Lap 43. The pit crew took the opportunity to change four tires and make a wedge adjustment. Ambrose restarted in 13th place on Lap 46.

“A few laps later it just wouldn’t turn in the middle,” Ambrose said.

By Lap 73, Ambrose drifted back to 22nd as his car was also loose in and off.

When the frontrunners began green flag pit stops at Lap 84, Ambrose was shown in 15th place when he entered pit road two laps later for four tires and more adjustments.

Ambrose continued his efforts and maintained a top 25 position as he approached Lap 100. Even though leader Jeff Gordon was lurking 15 car lengths behind Ambrose, his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota was turning faster lap times than Gordon.

Within the next 15 laps, Gordon was able to reel in Ambrose and finally make the pass to put him one lap down.

“We made an adjustment and for some reason it hurt the balance of the car and we lost a lap during that time,” Ambrose said. “We just never got it back, and that’s what hurt us--just track position and getting trapped a lap down.”

For the remainder of the 250-lap event, the JTG-Daugherty pit crew serviced the car every chance available to improve the handling. 

“It was tight through the middle,” Ambrose said. “It just would not roll. They made a variety of changes on each pit stop. Before Lap 200, the car was sliding and I still couldn’t turn it. There wasn’t much we could do for the center. Just after Lap 200, it was spinning the right rear tire. The right rear was just giving up.”

Ambrose soldiered on to cross the finish line in 22nd-place and earn $106,473 in winnings for his effort.

“I’m continuing to learn and getting more confident every day,” Ambrose said. “I feel like we have a good foundation heading into Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.”  

Ambrose’s teammates from Michael Waltrip Racing both earned top-15 finishes. Michael Waltrip finished 15th in his No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry and David Reutimann finished 14th behind the wheel of the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry. Waltrip is now seventh in the owner point standings and Reutimann is 12th.

Matt Kenseth won his second-consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Jeff Gordon finished second, Kyle Busch finished third, Greg Biffle finished fourth and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.

Live coverage of the Shelby 427 will air on Sunday, March 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

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