Marcos Ambrose was in conservation mode while running second when he ran out of fuel with less than two laps to go in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 47 Little Debbie® Chocolate Cupcakes Toyota.
Ambrose finished 15th in the 334-lap race. Kurt Busch crossed the finish line first for his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season as Ambrose’s No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry rested on pit road out of fuel. Ambrose completed 333 of 334 laps and is currently 18th in the championship standings with two races remaining.
“We gave it a shot,” said Ambrose. “We came up short by a lap and a bit. We were close on fuel, but if you get within a lap you have to have a go. We only needed half a gallon and that was the difference between second and 15th.”
On Friday, Ambrose qualified 19th. When race No. 34 started, a caution occurred three laps later involving points leader Jimmie Johnson and Sam Hornish Jr. Returning to green flag racing at Lap 8, Ambrose was 19th.
The No. 47 Little Debbie® Chocolate Cupcakes Toyota was running lap times as fast as leader and eventual winner Kurt Busch even though Ambrose reported he was starting to lose the nose. On Lap 47, Ambrose made his first green flag stop for four tires and fuel. Only ten laps later, he entered the top-10 and began his climb to the top-five.
With a car that was handling loose off the corners, Ambrose took over fifth-place on Lap 81 when Crew Chief Frankie Kerr told him he had the fastest car on the track.
On pit road under caution at Lap 87, the JTG-Daugherty Racing team changed four tires and made a slight air pressure adjustment to help with the car’s looseness.
“Marcos had the best car out there late in the run,” Kerr said.
Ambrose went to work again in fifth-place at Lap 91. Nine laps later he passed his teammate David Reutimann for fourth when Kerr keyed up the radio and told him again he had the best car on the track.
At Lap 104, ABC reported that Ambrose was one of the biggest movers during the race when he passed two-time champion Tony Stewart for third-place.
Four laps later, Kerr said that Ambrose was two-tenths faster than leader Kyle Busch. On Lap 128 in third, Ambrose was still turning lap times faster than the leader when he reported his No. 47 Little Debbie® Toyota was hitting the ground.
On his next green flag pit stop at Lap 146, the JTG-Daugherty Racing pit crew changed four tires and added fuel. They opted not to make any changes. The pit stop was under 13 seconds allowing Ambrose to maintain his third-place position as he still followed both Kyle and Kurt Busch respectively.
“The pit crew did an awesome job,” Ambrose said.
On Lap 166, there was a debris caution. Ambrose reported he had been loose in and tight in the center and hitting the ground while running third. The Little Debbie® Chocolate Cupcakes team changed four tires and put a packer in the right front. It was a good stop, but Ambrose was pinned in his pit box as Ryan Newman’s pit crew went to work on his machine. Valuable time was lost when Ambrose had to back up in attempts to exit his pit box.
He returned to the track in 19th place as the green flag waved at Lap 172. On Lap 199, Ambrose returned to the top-10. On Lap 207 under caution and shown in eighth-place, the JTG-Daugherty pit crew changed four tires and added fuel.
Lap 268 would be Ambrose’s last pit stop. Not long after the routine stop for four tires and fuel, Kerr gave Ambrose the bad news that he was two laps short on fuel. Kerr told his driver to conserve as much as he could in hopes that they could make it to the finish line. From that point on, Kerr continuously keyed up the radio and told Ambrose to save.
On Lap 319, Ambrose returned to the top-five while Kyle Busch showed the way with his brother Kurt in tow. Seven laps later, Kerr reminded Ambrose to do everything he could do to save fuel and to even shut the motor off at the flag stand if he had too.
On Lap 329 in fourth-place, Ambrose watched his teammate Reutimann one spot ahead of him run out of fuel. Two laps later, leader Kyle Busch told his team, ‘I’m coming to you’ as he ran out of gas too.
Kurt Busch assumed the lead and was milking his fuel mileage home as was Ambrose in second-place. All the sudden, Ambrose’s hopes for a top-five finish or a win in the Dickies 500 were shattered when he ran out of fuel on Lap 332 of the 334 lap event. Ambrose was credited with finishing 15th and Busch went on to win the race.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing, but we had a good night as well,” Ambrose said. “We rolled the dice and our numbers didn’t come up. It was a good night and we were genuinely competitive all day. The pace we had and what we’ve learned here will be really good for our 1.5-mile (oval) program moving on from here. I’ve learned to (save fuel) better. I didn’t know how tight we were. I probably could have saved more at the start of the run.”
This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Phoenix International Raceway. Live coverage of the event on November 15th on ABC begins at 2:30 p.m. ET. MRN and Sirius XM Satellite will also carry the event.