Michigan II: JTG Racing, Amborse preview

Ambrose has left road course racing in the dust to prepare for Michigan Brooklyn, Mich. (August 13, 2009) -- Fair dinkum, Marcos Ambrose had a near perfect weekend at Watkins Glen International earning his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series...

Ambrose has left road course racing in the dust to prepare for Michigan

Brooklyn, Mich. (August 13, 2009) -- Fair dinkum, Marcos Ambrose had a near perfect weekend at Watkins Glen International earning his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 win for STP and then posting a runnerup finish on Monday in his No. 47 Little Debbie? Toyota.

Now, the Australian travels to Michigan International Speedway for race number 23 with the same desire and determination in hopes of capturing his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory to add to his three top-five and six top-10 finishes.

"On Saturday, it was the first Nationwide Series race I ran this year for STP and we won it and then came really close to winning the Cup race for Little Debbie and all of our sponsors," Ambrose said. "We are getting it done as a team and we've got great equipment. We are ready to play with the big boys.

"We've had a great year and we can't complain," Ambrose continued. "Everything is a bonus from here on in. It has been a lot of fun and I love NASCAR. I just can't wait to snag one on the Cup level. Who would have thought you would finish second and feel disappointed?"

"Fair dinkum, we just had a great weekend," Ambrose added. "If you don't know what fair dinkum means, it is something that is genuine. For example, If we're talking about Tony Stewart and you say 'Fair dinkum he's the best', that means he's genuinely the best in your opinion. It is a term of endearment. People some times take me the wrong way and I've got in trouble with my pit crew. I've called them mates during a stop and they didn't understand me. They thought I was actually bagging them out after the pit stop, but I was saying 'good job mates' and giving them a compliment."

Frank Kerr, who led Ambrose to his second Zippo 200 victory and second-place finish in the Heluva Good! at The Glen, is still surprised by his No. 47 Little Debbie? Toyota Cup team's progress.

"If someone would have said that we were going to be 17th in points at this point, I would have said you were crazy," Kerr said. "Even though Marcos is not called a rookie, he is a rookie and attends all the meetings. He just ran one too many races last year to have that status, but he still has the yellow stripe on his bumper. So, each week I remind him, 'Well, there's another top rookie deal you missed out on.' We're just happy for him that the car's running well. A lot of the guys on our team came from the No. 44 and 00 teams. We adopted them and we are all enjoying the success we are having."

Mixed in with the success there have been a few hiccups with mechanical failures along the way that have kept the JTG-Daugherty team outside the top-12. There are always what ifs, but Kerr and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team are focused on the future and not the past.

"We take our licks and keep digging," Kerr said. "Sure, take away the failures we had at Atlanta (Motor Speedway), Texas (Motor Speedway) and the problems we had at Bristol (Motor Speedway) and the wreck we were collected in at Pocono (Raceway), we would be well inside the top-15. But, that's dumb racing luck and you can't do anything about that. All I know is that Marcos has developed into a great race car driver. I don't think he has a bad place on the circuit. Earlier this year, we thought man we are going to Bristol and didn't know how he would do. He actually had a shot at winning there until he dropped a cylinder. We're really looking forward to going back there next week."

Before the team can focus on Bristol Motor Speedway, their mindset is Michigan International Speedway where they admit to struggling earlier this year. Ambrose started 33rd and finished 31st.

"We can't go back to the setup we had at Michigan because the whole company didn't run the way we would have liked to," Kerr said. "We're bringing a new car with a different package. Every race at Michigan is about fuel. Throughout history it has come down to fuel mileage. We've tested at a few tracks for it and Toyota has worked hard on that. We had an incredible weekend at Watkins Glen thanks to Toyota and we are hoping to have another good one at Michigan."

Kerr's driver realizes Watkins Glen was a piece of cake. Now, Ambrose is wanting to transfer that success and conquer the two-mile Michigan tri-oval that was a hurdle for his JTG-Daugherty Racing team in June.

"I wonder if I can be successful on a tricky road course, how come I can't get out of my own way on an oval some days," Ambrose said. "I guess certain tracks suit certain people and some drivers are just brilliant everywhere. That's where I hope to be one day. I want to be one of those guys that can convert to an oval, a short track, a superspeedway or a road course like we had at Watkins Glen."

And then there are the dirt tracks. Ambrose has turned laps on three different dirt tracks over the course of six days to brace himself for the fifth annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream on Wednesday, September 9th at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. On Friday night he raced at Black Rock Speedway in Dundee, N.Y. in a celebrity race against David Reutimann, Bob Dillner, Michael McDowell and others. Then on Tuesday, he tested his 2,300-pound dirt Late Model Prelude stock car owned by Bob Straight at Cherokee Speedway in South Carolina. That same night he raced in the GM Perf Late Models feature at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia (N.C.) and finished 14th. Tonight, Ambrose and Kerr along with Trevor Bayne will stop in at Fremont Speedway to make several laps behind the wheel of an 1,100 pound, 850 horsepower sprint car at the one-third mile clay oval.

"One of our local drivers was at Indy visiting with Frank when NASCAR was there and gave Marcos a sprint car t-shirt and jokingly told him that's what a real race car looks like," said Fremont Speedway Promoter Rich Farmer. "Marcos said he always wanted to drive a sprint car and one thing led to another and with Frank's connections to Fremont, they decided to come out and have some fun on the dirt."

Kerr moved to Fremont, Ohio when he earned four All Star Circuit of Champion sprint car titles in the 1990s. In fact, Kerr's last All Star feature victory came at Fremont Speedway during an Ohio Speedweek event. After which, Kerr retired from driving and later became a valuable crew chief in the NASCAR ranks.

-credit: jtgr

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Trevor Bayne , Michael McDowell , Marcos Ambrose , David Reutimann