Fontana: Marcos Ambrose race report

AMBROSE CONTINUES SOLID START WITH 22ND IN CALIFORNIA Marcos Ambrose has continued to make a solid start to his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finishing 22nd in the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California...

AMBROSE CONTINUES SOLID START WITH 22ND IN CALIFORNIA

Marcos Ambrose has continued to make a solid start to his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finishing 22nd in the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California today.

Ambrose had an up-and-down day in the 250-lap event, ending with a solid midfield position in the 43-car field and narrowly missing a second straight top 20 finish.

The Australian enjoyed a strong start to the day in the #47 Little Debbie entry of JTG Daugherty Racing, starting from 14th position and knocking on the door of the top 10 throughout the opening two stints.

After the second round of pit stops the handling of the #47 entry deteriorated after a set-up change and the middle stages of the race were a struggle, with Ambrose, crew chief Frank Kerr and the entire team working hard at each pit stop to return the car to its early performance.

Entering the final stint, changes including altered tyre pressures paid dividends and Ambrose was able to rise up the order, passing cars such as Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson and Paul Menard to reach 19th position with just a handful of laps remaining.

Unfortunately, over the final few laps Ambrose's car lost rear grip as a result of badly worn rear tyres and he dropped positions to Bowyer, Bobby Labonte and Sorenson to finish the event in 22nd position.

The finish puts Ambrose is 21st position in this year's Sprint Cup Series points standings after two races, leading into the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada next weekend.

Matt Kenseth won his second-consecutive Sprint Cup race by claiming victory in the Auto Club 500 today ahead of Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch.

WHAT MARCOS HAS TO SAY:

"This really is a pretty good start to the year for us," said Ambrose.

"We just have to be a little conservative here to start the season to make sure we lock ourselves in on points, to take all that pressure off of us by not having to qualify into theses races.

"So it's exciting for us to have a solid finish, although we had some troubles today.

"We had a better car than where we finished but we'll take that position. I'm learning and getting more confident every day and I feel like it's a good foundation, although leaving the track right now I feel just a little frustrated.

"We made an adjustment on the second stop that really hurt the balance and handling of the car. We lost a lap during that time and we never got it back, and that's what hurt us, just track position and getting trapped a lap down.

"Basically we were racing the guys on our lap there until the end, but that's the nature of the business in this racing. You've got to be on your game every single run and we've made an error with the balance of the car and we paid the price.

"But in general we had a car that handled well for most of the day and I think it was a solid result.

"I ran out of rear tyres towards the end. The right rear was gone and the left rear was worn out a lot as well and I was sliding around a lot. They (the following cars) just ganged up on me basically and just trapped me in the middle (of the race track) and I had to back-pedal it to get out of the situation and I lost a couple of spots.

"Very unfortunate but it's the nature of the beast. We passed those guys early in the run but they came back to get us in the end."

-credit: ma/bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Marcos Ambrose , Paul Menard , Clint Bowyer , Reed Sorenson , Kyle Busch
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing