Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ambrose Finishes 26th In Rain Shortened Coca-Cola 600

CONCORD, N.C. (May 25, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose completed 227 laps in the No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota to finish 26th in Monday’s rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

“We would have had a better finish if the race would have stayed green,” Ambrose said. “We had just pitted and got our lap back when it started to rain. The weather was not in our favor. However, I’m really happy for my teammate, David (Reutimann), and I congratulate him, his team and the entire organization on their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.

He’s an awesome guy and a talented driver. He deserves it.”

Ambrose started the scheduled 400-lap event in 23rd-place. His car was loose in and off in the corners. Plus, it was tight in the middle when the first caution occurred for rain on Lap 6 while positioned 21st. The next caution was thrown for debris 10 laps later. Ambrose stayed out until NASCAR implemented a competition yellow on Lap 40. Crew chief Frank Kerr instructed the team to change four tires, make a track bar adjustment and pull a spring rubber out of the left rear. Ambrose restarted 31st on Lap 44 and 25 laps later; he was running lap times as fast as the leader Kyle Busch.

“The changes my JTG-Daugherty Racing team made were a good move and helped everything,” Ambrose said. “We had been free on entry and then tight in the middle.”

On Lap 70, rainfall was reported in Turn 2 of the 1.5-mile track. NASCAR was forced to wave the yellow flag. As rain began to fall harder, Ambrose drove his Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota onto pit road the following lap for four tires as well as a track bar and shock adjustment. On Lap 72, NASCAR red flagged the event to dry the track. Ambrose was shown in 38th.

Once the track was dry, NASCAR restarted the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Lap 79. Kyle Busch was leading the way with Carl Edwards and David Reutimann right on his bumper. By Lap 93, Ambrose was running 30th when he radioed in to Kerr about the handling of his No. 47 Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota.

“The left front shock adjustment was not helping,” Ambrose said. “It was just tight in the roll and couldn’t get in. We were fighting being loose in and tight in the middle.”

Ambrose pitted at Lap 128 under green for four tires and more adjustments. He returned to the track in 28th position, one lap down to leader, Brian Vickers.

On Lap 163, the Coca-Cola 600 was stopped at 3 p.m. ET to observe the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day. Ambrose and the Series competitors were brought to rest on the frontstretch and instructed to cut off their engines. Crew members joined on pit road and were lined up for the salute.

“That was one of the coolest things I have ever seen,” Ambrose said.

As rain was looming, Ambrose came down pit road once again at Lap 166 for tires and adjustments. By Lap 176, the field was back on pit road to wait out the rain.

When the event was finally restarted on Lap 179, Ambrose was 28th and first in line for the Lucky Dog pass. Ambrose was in the right position as the yellow flag was once again displayed at Lap 221. Rain was falling in Turn 2. Kerr and the JTG-Daugherty crew had another stab at improving the handling.

Ambrose also earned his lap back and a chance for his third top-10 finish of the season. Meanwhile, Reutimann, pole-sitter Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon gambled and remained on the track when NASCAR threw the caution. Reutimann’s gain was Ambrose’s loss as the Kingsford® Charcoal team would not get another opportunity to improve their finish because the race was called completed some two hours after the red flag was thrown.

Ambrose remains 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points standings heading into Dover International Raceway. Live coverage of Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400 gets underway on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on FOX. MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio will also carry the event.

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