Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marcos Ambrose, No. 47 Little Debbie(r) Phoenix Preview

PHOENIX, Ariz. (November 11, 2009) – Sunday’s race was a heartbreaker for Marcos Ambrose as he fell from second to 15th-place when the No. 47 Little Debbie® Chocolate Cupcakes Toyota ran out of fuel in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Still the JTG-Daugherty Racing driver ran in the top-five, which gives him confidence heading into the final two races of the season starting with Phoenix International Raceway.

“We have Phoenix and Homestead (Miami Speedway) left to make an impression,” Ambrose said. “As a group, we’ve come so far and we’ve got a lot of speed. Looking back at Texas, I take some responsibility because I didn’t slow down enough to save fuel. We ran out with a lap and a half to go. It was stressful and a hard call. It depends on a lot. How much fuel did they get in on the last stop? Did they get it full or not? Were the reads during the day accurate? Also, speeds picked up at night and we burned more fuel with the denser air. A lot of things were going on and a lot of guys ran out of fuel at Texas.”

Ambrose has the luxury of sharing information with two teammates David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip through the technical alliance at Michael Waltrip Racing that has been extended for two years. Reutimann ended up being in the same boat as Ambrose in Texas. Because the two are in similar equipment and have similar driving styles, they are able to work together and provide feedback to the teams.

“David is just a great guy and in my opinion he is just not rated like he should be because he’s one of the best drivers I’ve ever seen,” Ambrose said. “I’m in very similar equipment to him. We talk with each other and we share knowledge with one another. We are becoming quite good friends. You need to have that to have a successful team. You’ve got to be friends to work well together. Mutual respect is important. When I first came in to work with the MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) guys, they really didn’t know what I was all about. As time has evolved, we are working better together and we have a better bond. We trust each other, which is important on and off the track. I think it is working out great for us.”

It’s obvious something is working right for the JTG-Daugherty Racing team. Heading into Phoenix, Ambrose has four top-five, seven top-10 and 14 top-15 NSCS finishes. The Australian driver also came close to his first career victory at Watkins Glen International with a runner-up finish following a victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series the day prior.

“As a group we’ve come so far,” Ambrose said. “We’ve gained a lot of speed and I’ve gained a lot of confidence and knowledge. We do need to learn to win as a team and we’re not quite there yet. We have got to turn a good team into a winning team and that’s just eliminating mistakes. We are not crashing cars. We are finishing races when we can. We are seeing where we are lacking as a team and we are going to work hard on that in the off season.”

Ambrose has two shots left at victory in his first full-time season as a Cup competitor before the off season.

“To win at Phoenix or Homestead would be really something,” said Ambrose, who finished 14th at Phoenix in April and 18th last fall. “Phoenix is a bit of a challenge. We’ve ran in the top-15 there, but I don’t think we have had the car we needed to mess with the frontrunners. We are taking a different setup this time with more grip. Hopefully, we can hit it like we did at Texas. You just never know in these races.

Phoenix is a tough track,” Ambrose continued. “It’s rough and an older track. It’s got a few cracks that can mess up the handling through Turns 3 and 4. We want to run well there and finish our season out strong. In the mean time, I don’t want to ruin Jimmie Johnson’s race that’s for sure.”

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.

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