AMBROSE COLLECTS ANOTHER SOLID TOP-15 FINISH THIS TIME AT KANSAS Marcos Ambrose had a strong showing in race number 28 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Kansas Speedway. The Australian driver brought home a 14th-place finish in his No....
AMBROSE COLLECTS ANOTHER SOLID TOP-15 FINISH THIS TIME AT KANSAS
Marcos Ambrose had a strong showing in race number 28 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Kansas Speedway. The Australian driver brought home a 14th-place finish in his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota to maintain 17th in the championship standings. Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart won the 400-mile event, Jeff Gordon finished second, Greg Biffle was third, Juan Pablo Montoya crossed the finish line fourth and Denny Hamilton rounded out the top-five. Mark Martin continues to lead the championship standings by 18 points over Jimmie Johnson.
On Sunday afternoon, Ambrose started 27th as the 43-car field was led to the flag stand by pole-sitter Mark Martin for the start of the 267-lap event.
"The Little Debbie Toyota was a little loose in the beginning, but it still was really good," Ambrose said.
On the very first lap, NASCAR threw the caution flag when Joey Logano spun around. Ambrose was scored in 21st place as the field returned to green flag racing at Lap 5. The very next lap the No. 98 entry of Paul Menard lost control and several cars were collected on the backstretch including Michael Waltrip, David Ragan, Max Papis, and Bobby Labonte.
As NASCAR safety workers cleared the track of debris from the melee, Crew Chief Frank Kerr keyed up the microphone.
"Some of the drivers are saying that grip all the sudden goes away so be careful out there Marcos," Kerr said.
Martin led the field back to the start-finish line for the restart on Lap 11 while Ambrose was in 18th place. By Lap 15, Ambrose broke into the top 15 while Dale Earnhardt Junior was the new leader. Kerr told Ambrose he was catching the drivers ahead of him and was running lap times as fast as Earnhardt.
Ambrose was hitting his Little Debbie Toyota's right front on the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval and he was loose off. After running 15th for several laps, he was able to pass Clint Bowyer on Lap 39 for 14th and set his sights on the top 10.
"At that time, the car was so close to being awesome," Ambrose said.
"He was as fast as Dale Jr.," Kerr said.
On Lap 50, Ambrose drove by Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. for 12th place before he headed to pit road for his green flag pit stop four laps later. Ambrose drove on to pit road while shown in seventh place for four tires and an air pressure adjustment.
As the 32-year-old returned to the track he thought he might have a vibration and he was way too loose.
During the next caution at Lap 69, Ambrose told Kerr that the balance of the Little Debbie Toyota was hurt and it was jumping loose on him. Kerr communicated to his JTG-Daugherty Racing crew to put the air pressure back to where it was and to change four tires.
"It was jumping loose on me," Ambrose said. "The car had also been tighter in Turns 3 and 4."
Ambrose was back to green flag racing on Lap 74 in 15th place, but he reported right away that his Toyota was really free and that it may need a wedge adjustment to tighten it up.
"It was loose in and off," Ambrose said. "All in all, it was just really free."
Handling was Ambrose's nemesis causing him to slip outside the top-15. Around Lap 100, he had fallen to 23rd. Nearly 25 laps later, Brian Vickers spun around bringing out a caution that allowed the pit crew to make an air pressure adjustment, change four tires and go a half of a round up on the track bar. There was also damage sustained to the left rear quarter panel that Kerr called Ambrose back in on the next lap for repair.
"I'm not sure who got into me, but we had some damage to the rear," Ambrose said.
Ambrose restarted 18th on Lap 130 after the dent was hammered out of the left rear and the rear corner was taped up. Ambrose was glad to see another caution at Lap 147 because he was tight in the center and loose off. The crew opted to put on only right side tires for track position. When the green flag waved at Lap 151, Ambrose was shown in seventh place. Still battling looseness, he slid out of the top 10 at lap 154.
"It was loose off," Ambrose said.
Ambrose still needed more security and on Lap 238 under caution, Kerr was able to have the team change four tires again and make another track bar adjustment. As the 14 car of Tony Stewart showed the way on Lap 241, Ambrose was 16th. He returned to the top 15 the next lap.
"At that point it really didn't matter what was going to happen because the changes they made, did make an impact and we were running better," Ambrose said. "We made some gains."
The gains were good enough to keep Ambrose in the top 15 and he crossed the finish line 14th.
Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels west.