Monday, June 15, 2009

Ambrose Finishes 31st at MIS, Looks Ahead to Road-Course in Sonoma

Marcos Ambrose battled a loose handling No. 47 Toyota Camry to finish 31st at Michigan International Speedway in the LifeLock 400. Mark Martin won the 200-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Jeff Gordon finished second, Denny Hamlin third, Carl Edwards fourth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five.

Ambrose’s teammates David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip finished 19th and 30th respectively. Leaving the two-mile, D-shaped oval, Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team is 20th in the championship standings after completing race number 15 of 36.

“We were just loose, loose, loose,” Ambrose said. “Frankie (Kerr) and the guys made a lot of changes, but the car didn’t respond the way we needed it to. We’ll lick our wounds and go on to Sonoma where we know we’ll have a great package. We just didn’t know what to expect this weekend.”

Qualifying took place on Friday and Ambrose qualified 33rd. Two days later when the NASCAR official waved the green flag, it didn’t take long for Ambrose to key up the radio and tell crew chief Frank Kerr he was loose off and the left front of the car was hitting too hard. His teammates were both extremely loose too.

At Lap 35, the JTG-Daugherty team was in 36th position and Ambrose thought the car was starting to come around. During a green-flag stop four laps later, Kerr called for a chassis adjustment, four tires and fuel. As Ambrose went a lap down to leader Jimmie Johnson, his car continued to be extremely loose.

Under caution at Lap 75, Kerr and the JTG-Daugherty Racing team threw everything they had at the No. 47 Toyota Camry. They changed four tires, went down on the track bar, made an air pressure adjustment, and pulled a half rubber out of the left rear. “The Toyota was loose and I couldn’t get in with it,” Ambrose said. “It was zinging off the right rear.” Ambrose restarted 36th on Lap 77 with Jimmie Johnson leading the field.

“After they made the changes, it was so loose I couldn’t drive it,” Ambrose said. “It had no grip whatsoever. I felt like it was about to wreck.” On Lap 113, Ambrose was back on pit road for more adjustments. He returned to the track in 34th-place. “It was crazy loose,” Ambrose said. “They made more changes, put on four tires and pulled a rubber out of the right rear.”

A caution at Lap 120 allowed the JTG-Daugherty Racing crew to work on the car again. "They put more rubbers in the right rear and pulled a rubber out of the left rear,” Ambrose said. Ambrose took the green flag in 34th-place. “We didn’t have any rear grip,” Ambrose said.

With 32 laps remaining, the No. 47 pit crew took another stab at the car. “It was just loose again and needed forward bite,” Ambrose said. Ambrose completed 198 of 200 laps to finish 31st at Michigan International Speedway.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels out west for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty team tested at Virginia International Raceway twice along with Michael Waltrip Racing in preparation for their first road-course race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Live coverage from Sonoma on Sunday begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on TNT. The event will also air on PRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite.

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