Monday, June 01, 2009

Ambrose Collects Eighth Top-20 Finish This Season

DOVER, Del. (June 1, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose held on to a loose handling No. 47 Toyota Camry to finish 20th at Dover International Speedway in the Autism Speaks 400. Following race No. 13 on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit, Ambrose’s JTG-Daugherty Racing team is 20th in the championship standings.

“Dover is a fun place to race, but this race was challenging because our car was sideways loose off and felt like it was off the ground,” Ambrose said. “The JTG-Daugherty Racing pit crew threw everything they had at it from spring rubbers to chassis adjustments. They even tried taking the pin out of the sway bar and ended up having to cut it to unhook it.”

“That car was the loosest car that I have ever seen on the track that hasn’t been wrecked,” crew chief Frank Kerr said. “Marcos did an incredible job keeping the Toyota straight and we were able to leave with a top-20 finish.”

On Friday, the Australian driver qualified 20th for Sunday’s 400-lap event that was eventually won by Jimmie Johnson. Once the green flag dropped at the one-mile concrete oval, Ambrose battled being loose in and tight in the middle. A competition yellow NASCAR issued at Lap 30 allowed the pit crew to put on four fresh Goodyear tires and make adjustments to help the car turn. “It just wouldn’t turn and it was so bad in the middle,” Ambrose said.

The JTG-Daugherty team restarted 32nd on Lap 35. Ambrose was back on pit road not long after that for more tires and adjustments for similar problems. By Lap 100, leader Johnson has chased down Ambrose and ten laps later made the pass to place him a lap down while running 25th.

On Lap 120, the No. 47 Toyota reentered pit road for the team to change four tires and push in a spring rubber. The field with approximately 22 cars on the lead lap went back to work on Lap 123. Ambrose moved into 18th-place on Lap 129, but was really loose off. “We didn’t have any grip,” Ambrose said.

Ambrose told Kerr to go back on the last changes. Kerr told the crew to make a track bar adjustment and put in a three-quarter spring rubber in the left rear on Lap 165. Kerr called Ambrose back to pit road the next lap for the team to open up the shocks. “We were too tight in the middle and real loose,” said Ambrose, who was shown 19th at the time.

On Lap 232, Ambrose was back on pit road. “We were loose in and still snug in the middle,” Ambrose said. “They had taken wedge out before and thought they needed to go more on wedge.”

Restarting 18th on Lap 236, Ambrose was still battling with handling issues. “I think they ended up going up on the track bar a round and putting a spring rubber in the left rear,” Ambrose said. “We were loose off.”

The team put wedge back in on Lap 277 under caution and Ambrose took the green flag again four laps later in 18th-place. “We came back on to pit road not long after for four tires and more adjustments,” Ambrose said. “It was just crazy loose then.”

On the next caution at Lap 331, Ambrose was the recipient of the Lucky Dog award and advanced onto the lead lap. He was 20th when he headed to pit road.

“They made more changes because the car was just out of control,” Ambrose said. “They were still working with spring rubbers and did a half round of wedge in the left rear too. It was the loosest car that I’ve ever had.”

“I don’t know how he held onto it,” Kerr added. “We were doing everything we could to that car to make it drivable.” Ambrose restarted 20th on Lap 335 as leader Johnson showed the way. The car was no better and in fact appeared to be worse.

“I told them I didn’t care if they unhooked the bar,” Ambrose said. “We had to try something different. It was just bouncing like crazy. I don’t know what was wrong with it. I don’t know if something broke or what.”

On Lap 363, Kerr had the pit crew pull the spring rubbers out of the left rear, change four tires and add fuel. Then he instructed Ambrose to come back down pit road for the crew to cut the sway bar because they could not pull the pin out to unhook it on the initial stop. “We just sawed it in half,” Kerr said.

Ambrose restarted 20th on Lap 368 and two laps later avoided hitting his teammate David Reutimann, who tried to dodge David’s Stremme’s No. 12 car that shot up the track in front of him. The field returned to green flag racing at Lap 373 and Ambrose was positioned 18th while Greg Biffle was the leader until Tony Stewart passed him on lap 391.

The Australian driver went on to finish 20th while Jimmie Johnson charged past Tony Stewart in the final ten laps for the victory.

This week the JTG-Daugherty team travel to Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 500 on Sunday June 7. Live coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on TNT, MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

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