Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ambrose Crosses Finish Line 22nd at Richmond

Twenty-six races are in the books for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Marcos Ambrose finished 22nd in his No. 47 Clorox® Toyota Camry at Richmond International Raceway in the most recent event Saturday night that ended the suspense for which 12 drivers will compete for the championship.

Denny Hamlin, who is one of the 12 contenders, won the event in front of a hometown crowd while Brian Vickers drove his way into the top-12 Chase for the Cup with a seventh-place finish knocking Matt Kenseth out of 12th and beating fifth-place finisher Kyle Busch for the coveted spot by eight points.

The top 12 championship contenders for the final ten events are Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya and Greg Biffle.

Saturday night was full of surprises starting with a little rain that slightly delayed the 400-lap event. When NASCAR waved the green flag, Ambrose started from 16th-place in the 43-car field at the .75-mile D-shaped oval. As the first caution of the night occurred with Scott Speed hitting the wall on Lap 4, Ambrose radioed crew chief Frank Kerr about his car’s handling.

“We started the race a little loose on forward drive and as we made some laps it was tight in the middle and loose off,” Ambrose said.

The Australian driver maintained a top 15 spot for nearly 40 laps. At Lap 45, points leader Tony Stewart and Reed Sorenson’s machines got together in Turn 4 to bring out the second caution of the race. Ambrose headed to pit road for four tires and an air pressure adjustment since he had been loose in, tight in the middle and loose off. He returned to racing in 16th-place on Lap 50.

Six laps later Ambrose was jockeying for position as the No. 78 car stalled on the backstretch. A hole opened up on the bottom by Jamie McMurray for 14th-place and Ambrose dove to the bottom for the spot. The two slightly made contact.

“He got loose and got off the bottom and I filled the hole,” Ambrose said. As Ambrose restarted 14th on Lap 63, he reported a bit of brake fade. “The brakes would shake too,” Ambrose said.

The No. 47 Clorox® Toyota was on the move and gained three positions to be scored in 11th place by Lap 64. Holding on to a top-15 position, Ambrose pitted again at lap 106 when a caution happened for debris. The pit crew changed four tires and shoved a quarter rubber in the right rear because Ambrose had been loose off.

After pitting and making some more laps, Ambrose reported he was loose off on Lap 138. When the yellow flag waved at Lap 172 for debris, he was 24th and said he was 'loose on entry.' Back on pit road at Lap 174, the JTG-Daugherty Racing team changed four tires and took the quarter rubber out of the right rear.

On their next stop under caution at Lap 204, Kerr called for a small wedge adjustment in the Clorox® Toyota and only two tires. The call for two tires was for track position. Ambrose went from 24th to 11th for the restart on Lap 211.

Ambrose eventually fell to 28th and a lap down to leader Hamlin before having the opportunity to pit at Lap 282 for four fresh Goodyear tires. He pitted again on lap 322 and on lap 383 he earned the Lucky Dog and got back on the lead lap. He pitted one final time under caution for more tires and adjustments and fought hard to pass a number of cars to cross the finish line 22nd and post his 19th top-25 finish of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He remains 17th in the points standings.

Next the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sylvania 300. Live coverage of the event on Sunday, September 20th on ABC begins at 1 p.m. ET. PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also broadcast the event.

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