Monday, June 08, 2009

Ambrose captures his third top-10 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season

LONG POND, Penn. (June 7, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose scored his third top-10 finish of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season by crossing the finish line sixth in the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. Ambrose and his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota advanced two positions in the championship standings to 18th-place. The Australian driver is building a good case for The Chase as he sits 210 points out of 12th-place.

His teammate, David Reutimann, finished third in the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry and returned to the top-12 (11th) in the championship standings. Also, Michael Waltrip and his No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry team rallied back to finish 17th. “JTG-Daugherty Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing had a strong showing at Pocono,” Ambrose said. “It gives us some momentum going into Michigan this week.”

On Friday, qualifying was canceled due to inclement weather and NASCAR lined up the 43-car field based on the NASCAR rulebook. In the driver’s meeting on Sunday, NASCAR explained the new double-file restart format that went into effect beginning with the Pocono 500 to make the racing more exciting. “Double-file restarts is a way for NASCAR to make the races more exciting for the fans,” Ambrose said.

As the race started that afternoon, Ambrose was 20th when the green flag waved for the 200-lap race. He quickly communicated to crew chief Frank Kerr that he was tight in traffic. As he made a few more laps, he slid outside the top-20 before pitting on Lap 14 for an air pressure and track bar adjustment. “We were tight in Turn 1 to the middle and free in Turns 2 and 3,” Ambrose said.

Ambrose returned to the top 20 following the restart a few laps later and closed in on the top 15. He was running lap times faster than leader Jimmie Johnson, but was too loose off. He moved around to find clean air and as the fuel burned off, the car’s handling improved. On a green flag stop at Lap 45, Ambrose came down pit road in 17th position for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. As the pit cycle was completed, Ambrose was running 16th -- still faster than the leader. While running 16th for the next several laps, his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota was free with no forward bite. On the next green flag stop at Lap 76, the JTG-Daugherty Racing team changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment.

“It felt like I was sitting on the right rear,” Ambrose said. “We talked about trying to get the track bar up more,” Kerr said. At halfway, Ambrose still held on to 16th-place. Four laps later, a caution occurred for debris exiting Turn 2. Kerr called for a quarter round of wedge out and four tires. “We had put a quarter turn of wedge in it and it hurt him so we went back on what we did,” Kerr said. Back to green flag racing, Ambrose was 16th on Lap 108.

“The attitude of the car was fine after Frank made those changes,” Ambrose said. “We just needed to take another stab at it in that direction.” Ambrose made his way just outside the top-10 and was 13th when the caution flag was waved on Lap 112 with Carl Edwards shown as the race leader. After the restart five laps later, Ambrose was 12th. The next lap, he charged into the top 10 for a couple laps and then settled into the top 15.

“We were loose in and off,” Ambrose said. Ambrose was back on pit road on Lap 137 for four tires and adjustments. A debris caution at Lap 154 allowed the JTG-Daugherty team to take another stab at it. They changed tires again and went up three-eighths on the track bar as well as added a spring rubber. Kerr made the call for Ambrose to come back down pit road giving up valuable track position to top off for fuel. Ambrose dropped from 15th-place to 23rd, but the call proved to be the right one for the team as he was fast enough to regain his track position and make it to the end on fuel.

With 24 laps remaining, Ambrose returned to the top 15. By lap 187, he was eighth. “Marcos was running in the top 10, but I told him to back off and conserve fuel,” Kerr said.

On Lap 192, Ambrose was running seventh. Then on the final lap, Jimmie Johnson slowed as he started to run out of fuel. Ambrose passed him to cross the finish line in sixth place. Tony Stewart won the event.

Live coverage of the LifeLock 400 on Sunday starts at 12:30 p.m. on TNT. MRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also carry the event.

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