Monday, September 28, 2009

Ambrose Records 12th Top-15 of the 2009 Cup Season

DOVER, Del. (September 28, 2009) – Sunday afternoon Marcos Ambrose recorded his 12th top-15 finish of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Ambrose’s 14th-place finish in race number 28 helped him hold on to the 17th spot in the championship standings with eight races remaining.

“We were really pleased with our effort overall,” said Ambrose who finished 20th at Dover earlier this season. “We did better this time around.”

When the green flag waved for the 400-lap event, Ambrose started 27th as Jimmie Johnson (winner) led the way. By lap 20, Ambrose was running lap times as fast as the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, who was still in first with Ryan Newman tucked in behind him in second.

At Lap 25, NASCAR gave the teams an opportunity to service their cars under a competition yellow. Ambrose’s crew chief Frank Kerr took advantage of the situation and called him to pit road for four tires and fuel. Ambrose left pit road in 26th place. Ryan Newman led the field back to green with Kurt Busch in second and Paul Menard in third, Kasey Kahne was fourth and Greg Biffle occupied fifth place.

On Lap 31, Ambrose was side-by-side racing two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and the No. 20 car of Joey Logano was just ahead of him up top in close quarters. Logano squeezed down to the bottom in front of Stewart just as Bobby Labonte in the No. 96 car checked up ahead of both of them. As Logano slowed, Stewart had no where to go and made contact with the No. 20 Home Depot entry driven by the 19-year-old. Logano then slid down the track and shot back up in front of the No. 43 entry of Reed Sorenson. Logano hit the retaining wall as Sorenson could not avoid hitting him on the right side. Logano began to barrel roll his car seven times forcing NASCAR to red flag the event for the six-car accident.

“I’m just glad he’s OK,” Ambrose said. “It all happened so fast. I was just outside of Stewart and Joey slid down in front of him. Then the 96 checked up and Tony got into the back of Joey. There was nothing Tony could do.”

“The 96 checked up and by the time I got to Joey, it was out of my hands,” Sorenson said. “It was a wild wreck, but Joey’s okay.”

“It just really scared the heck out of me,” Logano said. "It was the wildest ride I've ever been on."

Once the red flag was lifted, it was back to green flag racing. Ambrose was 24th and Newman was still the leader. With a loose-handling car, Ambrose gained three more positions before the next caution at Lap 84.

“We were loose in and tight in the middle,” Ambrose said.

The JTG-Daugherty Racing team changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment to improve handling. The changes seemed to work as Ambrose was able to run in the top 20. On Lap 117, he passed Denny Hamlin for 18th and set his sights on the top 15. Three laps later, Kerr keyed up the microphone and told Ambrose that he was running lap times as fast as the leader when he was in clean air.

“He had the same lap times as the leader (Kurt Busch) when he was by himself out there,” Kerr said.

On Lap 129, Kerr was back on the radio telling Ambrose that he had the best car on the track. As Ambrose kept logging laps, his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota was loose in and tight off. Johnson passed Busch on Lap 146 for the lead while Ambrose was fighting for a top-15 spot. On Lap 162, Ambrose moved into 15th place when the yellow flag was displayed at Lap 163.

“The car wasn’t right and it was like something had happened to it,” Ambrose said. “It was loose in and tight in the throttle.”

Kerr elected to bring Ambrose onto pit road at Lap 165 for four tires and a half-of-round of wedge out of the left rear. He returned to racing on Lap 168 in 14th place and in the next few laps gained a couple more spots. On Lap 213, he was knocking on the door of the top-10 runners as he was situated in 11th. Even though he climbed his way up the ladder, he had lost rear grip and was loose in.

By the time a caution occurred at Lap 272, Ambrose was on the radio telling Kerr he had no right- rear grip at all. The JTG-Daugherty Racing team decided to change four tires and go down a half-of-a-turn on the track bar. When the NASCAR official threw the green flag in the air, Ambrose took off in 14th place.

Not long after, Ambrose told Kerr he needed to go back on the changes and take some of the wedge out. Fortunately, the next caution at lap 324, they were able to make the desired changes as they bolted on four tires. Ambrose was still running in the top-15 when they were back to racing, but he was still loose in. The team pitted at Lap 343 to once again work on the car under caution.

“They changed tires and they took a half-round out of the left rear,” Ambrose said. “

On their final stop of the race at Lap 370, they put on four fresh tires and went up a quarter-round on the track bar. After restarting 18th at Lap 373, Ambrose was able to gain four additional spots in the closing laps to capture another top-15 finish.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enters Kansas Speedway. Live coverage of the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods will air live beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Sirius XM Satellite and MRN Radio will also carry the event.

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