Loudon: Marcos Ambrose preview

UNFINISHED BUSINESS FOR AMBROSE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE Marcos Ambrose has some unfinished business to settle in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire this weekend. At the same race last year, Ambrose...

UNFINISHED BUSINESS FOR AMBROSE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Marcos Ambrose has some unfinished business to settle in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire this weekend.

At the same race last year, Ambrose failed to qualify for the event, driving the #21 entry of Wood Brothers Racing, which was outside the top 35 in owner's points and therefore had to qualify into the race 'on speed'.

This is the only time that Ambrose has ever failed to qualify for a NASCAR race on speed after 119 NASCAR starts.

This year, Ambrose enters the race off the back of equalling his best ever Sprint Cup Series finish with third place from the back of the field in Sonoma, California.

Ambrose, this year running full-time at Sprint Cup level for the first time, currently sits 18th in the points standings after 16 races.

With 10 races remaining before the 12-driver field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Ambrose's crew chief Frank Kerr is talking up JTG Daugherty Racing's chances of making the cut.

Ambrose, however, is not as optimistic and is preferring to concentrate on his season race-by-race, more intent on posting consistent top 10 finishes and letting the points situation take car of itself.

FRANK KERR WINS CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE IN SONOMA --

While Marcos Ambrose won the Mobil 1 Command Driver Performance Award in Sonoma last weekend, his crew chief Frank Kerr also collected an accolade of his own.

Kerr was awarded the Wypall Crew Chief of the Race Award for Ambrose's stunning drive from last to third in the 110-lap road course event, a finish that equalled his best-ever Sprint Cup Series finish (at Watkins Glen last season).

NASCAR 'Contingency Awards' are traditionally presented at driver introductions in the lead-up to the next week's race, meaning that Ambrose and Kerr will get to share the limelight at Loudon this weekend in the pre-race ceremonies.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD A NASCAR?

With the enormous inventories of machinery at the disposal of most Sprint Cup Series drivers, it is always fascinating to get an insight into just how teams manage all those race cars.

Here are some comments from Marcos Ambrose's #47 JTG Daugherty Racing crew chief Frank Kerr on what new cars are coming up for Marcos, how long it takes to build a new Sprint Cup Series car from scratch and how much extra attention and planning went into the team's road course car for Sonoma.

In the context of the races that Kerr refers to where Ambrose will run a new car, starting from last week's race in Sonoma the race weekends are as follows: Sonoma (new car), Loudon, Daytona (new car), Chicagoland, *off-week*, Indianapolis (new car), Pocono (new car).

Extra comments from Kerr on working with Ambrose, the season so far and the third place effort at Sonoma can be found in the quotes section of this release.

"We are building two brand new cars, to take one to Pocono and one to Indianapolis, and our road course car is also brand new," said Kerr.

"None of our cars are very old, but we are also going to Daytona with another brand new (superspeedway) car.

"We are preparing as hard as we can here to get up there towards the Chase in terms of points. We'll need some luck to make it.

"The road course car we spent a lot of time on, talking about it, drawing up the front end and making some pieces for it and that was probably a month.

"Then building the car was probably a month and a half more, so that car probably had 60 to 70 days of actual time in it to build.

"As part of our alliance here with Michael Waltrip Racing, their fabrication shop is second-to-none as far as getting stuff built.

"Front the time where it is just some straight tubing -- because we build the chassis here from scratch and everything -- to the time it gets to the floor to assemble the race car is 21 days.

"Then, it takes another three or four days to assemble. So we can build a brand new car from scratch in 25 days.

"The MWR relationship has been great. For a single car team to assemble all the engineering and everything you need, you would run out of money before you get to the race track.

"It was a good fit for us to come here and I've been here before as I was one of the original employees of MWR. It's turned out to be a great thing for us all."

WHAT MARCOS HAS TO SAY:

On the track --

"Loudon will be interesting," said Ambrose.

"We really haven't been to flat track since Phoenix. We really don't know what to expect and you really never know.

"You can have a break out race like Bristol (Motor Speedway) and Martinsville (Speedway) or a tough race like we had at Michigan (International Speedway).

"All of us at JTG Daugherty Racing are thrilled with how the teams are running.

"Every week, at least one of us (Ambrose or #47 JTG Daugherty Racing Nationwide Series driver Michael McDowell) is doing well.

"It's a great feeling to be able to see results from all of the hard work and also to see that the guys at the shop feel good about what we're doing.

"I wanted to experience what NASCAR is about and so far, it has been quite a ride."

On making the Chase for the Sprint Cup --

"I think Frankie may have got caught up in the moment after finishing third," said Ambrose.

"I don't forget that I have that rookie stripe on the back bumper. For us to make it into the top 12 is really not a realistic goal in my opinion. Everything would have to fall perfectly in place for us. I just want to look good out there and run in the top 10. The points will follow after that.

"Honestly, at the beginning of the season we were just worried that we weren't going to make it in the top 35. We've quickly moved past that. We are locked in the top 20 and we are proud of that.

"I feel like if we don't focus on the top-12 points, we will do even better. We just need to focus on each race and not worry about points. We're going to enjoy it and not put any additional pressure on us."

AND A WORD FROM #47 CREW CHIEF FRANK KERR--

On Sonoma --

"Sonoma turned out well after the engine failure on Saturday," said Kerr.

"We went to a different strategy after the engine failure and were optimistic for the race. The guys did a great job with the stops and Marcos did a heck of a job behind the wheel to get us up there."

On Marcos --

"Marcos has improved dramatically since last year when we ran those select races," said Kerr.

"He has unbelievable talent for the feel of a race car. It's amazing how much he has picked up on oval tracks in a short period of time.

"He's good to work with and a lot of fun. I always tease him that he is a 13-year-old stuck in a 30-something man's body. He's a blast.

"Marcos is a great guy -- if you can understand him.

"His accent there is something you don't here every day and when he gets excited there on the radio it gets really hard to understand him.

"Going to practice, when it's a little more relaxed, he is very detailed in terms of explaining what the car is doing. So it makes my job a lot easier to pinpoint what we need to go faster."

On the 2009 season so far --

"It's so competitive," said Kerr.

"We thought heading into this season that if we could be between 25th and 30th in points that would be a great season for us.

"We've had four engine failures so far so you've got to think that if it wasn't for that, we could be close to getting into the Chase.

"We've got another road course race coming up, we ran really well at Pocono and we ran well at Indianapolis last year so I'm looking forward to the next 10 races that are left before the Chase is set.

"If other guys have some trouble like we have had, we could be up there trying to get into the Chase."

THE CAR: 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry

Marcos Ambrose will drive the #47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301.

-credit: ma/bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Michael McDowell , Marcos Ambrose
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing , Wood Brothers Racing