On Friday, qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather. With NASCAR setting the field by the rulebook based on the owner points standings, Ambrose started 18th as Tony Stewart led the field to the green flag with Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards in tow.
The Australian driver maintained his top 20 run with a loose handling Little Debbie® Toyota that he brought down pit road on Lap 16 for four tires, and an air pressure and wedge adjustment.
“We were loose in and loose off and it had no forward drive,” Ambrose said.
Restarting in 27th-place on Lap 19, Ambrose’s radioed the team a couple laps later to tell them they made changes in the right direction and the car’s handling had improved. He more so liked the feeling the changes gave him on entry. On Lap 47 under caution in 22nd-place, the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota entered pit road again for a quarter round track bar adjustment, a half turn in on wedge and no tires.
On Lap 63, Ambrose took the green in 29th-place and quickly returned to the top 25. As the race progressed, leader Jimmie Johnson was on a rail and making his way around several cars to put them one lap down. As Johnson had Ambrose in sight on Lap 115, the Australian driver was running lap times as fast as the Lowe’s machine while scored in 19th-place. With green flag pits stops taking place soon after, Ambrose gave up 11th-place and entered pit road on Lap 124 for four fresh tires. He ended up being scored one lap down to leader Johnson when he returned to the track.
“We had lost forward drive,” Ambrose said.
Ambrose was 19th on the restart at Lap 195 and was extremely loose. Keeping his top-20 form, the frontrunners started to pit around Lap 235 when leader Tony Stewart headed to pit road. With teams ahead of Ambrose pitting, he was scored as high as third-place before making his green flag stop on Lap 239 for four tires. He returned to the track 27th.
While 24th on Lap 262, Ambrose’s spotter told Kerr that the rain was close. Five laps later it started to mist again as Ambrose was on pit road at Lap 272 for four tires and a shock adjustment. The next lap NASCAR brought the field down pit road and parked the cars with Logano in the lead due to opting to stay out and not pit. The 19-year-old went on to win his first career victory.
Ambrose finished 23rd after completing 273 laps of the scheduled 301 lap event and his teammate David Reutimann finished fourth while Michael Waltrip finished 24th.
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Daytona International Speedway. Live coverage of the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The event will also air on MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite.