Martinsville: JTG Racing, Ambrose race report

Ambrose Records Another Strong Short Track Finish With 14th At Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose finished 14th in the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway during the sixth NASCAR...

Ambrose Records Another Strong Short Track Finish With 14th At Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose finished 14th in the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway during the sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2009 season.

"It's awesome that we were able to get away with a top 10 and a top-15 (finish) in my first two short tracks -- I'll take it," Ambrose said.

With two back-to-back impressive short track finishes, Ambrose is now 21st in the owner championship standings and is only 98 points out of tenth-place entering Texas Motor Speedway with his JTG-Daugherty Racing team.

"I'm kind of over this short track stuff -- let's go back to a normal speedway," Ambrose said.

Ambrose entered Martinsville Speedway fresh off a tenth place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. He started the 500lap event at the .526-mile Virginian oval 24th after rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying and set the 43-car field by the rulebook on Friday. Rain also washed out both early day practice sessions on Saturday.

As the race began on Sunday afternoon, the Australian driver entered the top 20 before Lap 30. With limited practice, NASCAR implemented a competition yellow 10 laps later that gave teams an opportunity to work on their cars.

"My Little Debbie Toyota was pushing and I was having an issue with forward bite," said Ambrose, whose team changed four tires and dropped the track bar a half of round.

Some teams opted not to pit during the competitionyellow so when the green flag waved at Lap 47, Ambrose went back to work in 30th place. By Lap 82, Ambrose was running lap times as fast as the leader, Jeff Gordon. Six laps later, the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota reentered the top 20.

When another caution occurred at Lap 90,Frank Kerrhcrew chief) elected to keep Ambrose on the track to gain valuable track position. Staying out, placed Ambrose in the top 10 (tenth).

"We were able to position ourselves in the top 10," Ambrose said. "That was about the time I was starting to worry about my brakes. Also, the right rear was giving up and it needed to rotate better."

Ambrose stayed in the top 10 for 25 laps. He was inside the top 15 when the caution flag was thrown at Lap 138. Two laps later, thepit crew placed on four fresh Goodyear tires and put in a half a round of wedge in the left rear. Ambrose restarted 14th on Lap 143.

As the race progressed, Ambrose maintained a top 20 run. Approaching halfway, his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota was in 16th place and running lap times same as the leader, Denny Hamlin. At Lap 257, Ambrose came down pit road under caution for more service.

"He was the best on that long run," Kerr said. "We put on four tires on that stop and made an air pressure adjustment."

"The car came to me when it burned fuel," Ambrose said.

With 21 cars on the lead lap at 264, Ambrose took the green in 14th place. On Lap 325, his Toyota would not turn through the middle, but he managed to prolong his top 15 run. On Lap 352, Ambrose told Kerr that he was losing his brakes. Fortunately, a caution gave the team a chance to figure out the problem, change tires and makeadjustments. After coming in for tires on Lap 354, Ambrose came back in for the JTG-DaughertyRacing crew to add brake fluid.

Ambrose restarted 19th on Lap 358. With the car rolling better and Ambrose overcoming his brake issue, it did not take long for him to reenter the top 15. With 97 laps to go, Kerr told Ambrose he had the fastest car on the track. At Lap 416, Ambrose was as fast as the leader again (Denny Hamlin) even though he was still struggling with forward bite.

On the last stop of the afternoon under caution, Kerr opted for only two tires and adjustments on Lap 429. Ambrose restarted 10th on Lap 433. As the laps dwindled, Ambrose held on for another strong finish crossing the finish line 14th at Martinsville Speedway.

"We had old tires on there at the end and we were able to stay on the lead lap all day," Ambrose said. I just have to thank myJTG-Daugherty Racing crew so much -- Frankie and everyone involved. They give me awesome cars and we just keep getting better. I also have to thank all the guys at Michael Waltrip Racing who help us with our partnership back at the shop. They do a great job and give us great stuff every week. We're reliable, we're fast and it's just been a lot of fun."

Next up is the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 5.

-credit: jtgr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Waltrip , Marcos Ambrose , Denny Hamlin
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing