Monday, July 13, 2009

Ambrose has Strong 11th-Place finish at Chicagoland Speedway

JOLIET, Ill. (July 13, 2009) – Marcos Ambrose rallied back from two laps down to finish 11th in the 400 behind the wheel of his No. 47 Kingsford® Toyota at Chicagoland Speedway Saturday night. It was the Australian driver’s ninth top-15 finish in 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts this season.

“We had a good night and we fought hard all day,” Ambrose said. “We had some troubles and went a couple laps down. Pit strategy got us back on track. We got some track position and made the most of it -- just a great night for our team. We just don’t give up. It’s our first year on most of these tracks and our first time here in a Cup car. It’s very hard to expect solid results, but we’re really doing it. We’re doing it week in and week out and we’re excited about that.”

The team was just as pleased with Ambrose’s qualifying effort after he qualified tenth for the 267-lap event. When the green flag dropped on Saturday, Ambrose was lined up alongside teammate David Reutimann in row five. On Lap 8 while in 15th position, Ambrose communicated to crew chief Frank Kerr that he was tight through the center and needed a small wedge adjustment.

As Ambrose maintained his top 15 run, his car had a loose feeling off the corners. When the first caution of the race occurred on Lap 38, Ambrose was loose in and loose off.

“I was still too free,” Ambrose said. “The 47 Kingsford® Charcoal team changed four tires and made an air pressure and wedge adjustment.”

Ambrose restarted 14th on Lap 43 and as the race progressed he was tight in the center and was experiencing his car trying to jump out from underneath him. At Lap 91, Ambrose reported his car had improved greatly. As he pitted under green flag conditions three laps later, Kerr called for four tires and no changes.

For some reason, all of the sudden, the Kingsford® Charcoal Toyota was extremely loose and almost spinning out in the corners. Faced with handling problems, leader and eventual winner Mark Martin was able to chase Ambrose down to put him one lap down.

“I told Frank we needed a triple adjustment,” Ambrose said. “We’re not sure what happened there.”

As he was on the edge of spinning out of control, Ambrose slipped back to 24th when fortunately a caution was called for debris at Lap 130.

“It was loose and almost spinning out,” Ambrose said. “I couldn’t turn the wheel.”

On the restart at Lap 136, Ambrose was 26th and was still one lap down along with 16 other cars.

“We were loose everywhere,” Ambrose said.

At Lap 186 under green, the team changed four tires and made more adjustments. As another caution happened at Lap 211, Ambrose was two laps down by this point. Kerr elected to keep Ambrose out on track in hopes that a caution would fall there way to get one of the two laps back. On Lap 219, the yellow flag waved and Kerr’s wish was granted.

“We were able to gain a lap back,” Ambrose said. “We just needed to get the car more secure. The guys kept working on it.”

After the JTG-Daugherty Racing pit crew changed four tires and made more adjustments Ambrose was 25th when the field went back to green flag racing.

At Lap 242, Ambrose radioed Kerr to tell him the Kingsford® Charcoal was the best it had been all race. Four laps later, Kerr, Ambrose and the JTG-Daugherty Racing team were happy to see that the cards fell their way as the caution flag waved. Ambrose advanced back onto the lead lap and was scored in 19th place as he headed to pit road on Lap 248 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment.

After restarting 18th on Lap 249, the battle heated up ahead. With seven laps remaining, one final caution slowed the field. Ambrose was 12th on the restart and he went on to cross the finish line in 11th-place to maintain 18th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver's championship points standings.

Mark Martin won the event, Jeff Gordon finished second, Kasey Kahne finished third, Tony Stewart was fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Reutimann finished 12th and Michael Waltrip finished 20th.

After an off weekend, Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team prepare for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 26th. Live coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on ESPN begins at 1 p.m. on IMS and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also carry the event live.

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