Daytona Duel: JTG Racing, Ambrose race report

Ambrose Will Start 23rd in the Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 12, 2009) - Marcos Ambrose has earned the 23rd-starting position for the Daytona 500 on Sunday after finishing 13th behind the wheel of his No. 47 Little Debbie0x00ae...

Ambrose Will Start 23rd in the Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 12, 2009) - Marcos Ambrose has earned the 23rd-starting position for the Daytona 500 on Sunday after finishing 13th behind the wheel of his No. 47 Little Debbie0x00ae Toyota Camry in the first of two Gatorade Duel races this afternoon.

"I wanted to mix it up a little more out there with the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, but we got shuffled out of the pack and lost a lot of momentum," Ambrose said. "The Duel gave us a chance to find out how the car reacts in the draft and what we need to do to work on it to make it better for the Daytona 500. The biggest thing I experienced was that the car kept hitting the ground and then it would jump out from underneath me."

After posting a time of 48.384 seconds (30th-place) during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying on Sunday, Ambrose started 14th out of 28 cars in the first Gatorade Duel. Each race is comprised of 60 laps or 150 miles. The results of the qualifying races determine the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. In the last practice on Wednesday before the Duels, Ambrose was eighth overall on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series speed chart.

As the green flag waved for the first 60-lap Gatorade Duel, Ambrose radioed crew chief Frank Kerr on Lap 3 to update him on the handling of his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry.

"The Little Debbie Toyota started snug off and was really pushing the nose," Ambrose said.

By Lap 10, Ambrose reported that his car could snap loose at any moment. Experiencing handling issues, Ambrose drifted back to 24th as he tried to keep his car from breaking loose.

Fortunately, his JTG-Daugherty Racing team caught a break when a caution occurred at Lap 24 and they were able to change four tires and make a track bar adjustment.

"It was pushing, tight in the middle and really loose off," Ambrose said.

Ambrose restarted 20th at Lap 30 and eight laps later his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota was bottoming out and still extremely loose.

"Thankfully, there was another caution around Lap 50 and they were able to work on it again," Ambrose said.

After the team changed four tires and made wedge and air pressure adjustments, Ambrose was shown in 22nd place when the green flag waved again.

Inside 10 laps to go, there was a multi-car accident in front of Ambrose causing him to lock up his tires. He was forced to pit under caution for four fresh tires on Lap 54. The Australian driver restarted 18th at Lap 55.

With five laps remaining, Ambrose worked his way up to 14th and was able to bring home a 13th-place finish. Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip, who is Ambrose's teammate, finished 15th in the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry. Ambrose's other teammate, David Reutimann, finished 15th in the second race.

The top-five finishers in the first race were Jeff Gordon (winner), Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Lagano and Aric Almirola.

The top-five finishers in the second race were Kyle Busch (winner), Mark Martin, Brian Vickers, Juan Pablo Montoya and Denny Hamlin.

Ambrose has one practice on Friday afternoon and one on Saturday morning before starting 23rdin the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

"I can't wait till Sunday," Ambrose said. "We've got something to work with. We've just got to make some more friends out there."

-credit: jtgdr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya