Watkins Glen: Marcos Ambrose race report

AMBROSE SCORES CAREER-BEST SECOND IN SPRINT CUP AT WATKINS GLEN Marcos Ambrose has scored his best ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish by grabbing second place in a thrilling Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen in Watkins Glen, New ...

AMBROSE SCORES CAREER-BEST SECOND IN SPRINT CUP AT WATKINS GLEN

Marcos Ambrose has scored his best ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish by grabbing second place in a thrilling Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen in Watkins Glen, New York today.

Ambrose finished just behind current Sprint Cup points leader Tony Stewart at the end of today's 90-lap race, which was delayed by one day due to rain at the 2.45-mile road course yesterday.

Driving the #47 Little Debbie-backed entry of JTG Daugherty Racing, Ambrose started from fourth position but his race was turned on its head in the early stages, when Ambrose was one of only three cars to elect not to pit at a caution on lap 23.

With Ambrose now off-strategy to the front-runners, he faced a sizeable challenge to get back into the lead pack, despite leading the race on two occasions for a total of nine laps as his alternate strategy played out.

At the final series of pit stops, Ambrose and his crew chief Frank Kerr opted to take only fuel, resulting in a quicker pit stop and propelling Ambrose from outside the top 20 up into fourth place, but meaning that he would have to finish the race on well-worn tyres.

Despite his older rubber, Ambrose had more than enough speed to pass Kyle Busch -- his rival in Saturday's spectacular Nationwide Series win -- to take second place.

Unfortunately for Ambrose, two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart possessed enough pace to hold out Ambrose over the final laps, denying the Australian his first top-level NASCAR victory.

For their efforts, Ambrose earned the Mobil 1 Command Performance Award and Kerr the DirecTV Crew Chief of the Race Award.

Ambrose rises one spot in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings after today's outstanding result to now sit in 17th place, clearly the highest placed first year driver and now just 114 points behind Michael Waltrip Racing stable-mate David Reutimann.

Ambrose will be back in action this weekend at the 2.0-mile Michigan International Speedway for the Carfax 400, the 23rd race in this year's Sprint Cup Series.

Today's race was also marred by a lengthy red flag period after a sickening crash involving Sam Hornish Jr, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton. All drivers escaped uninjured. CLICK HERE to view the accident.

MARCOS AMBROSE - Pit Lane Interview:

QUESTION: It's been a big weekend for Marcos Ambrose. A win on Saturday and a second place on Monday. How was your car today Marcos?

"It was just great. We've had a trying weekend. Both cars were difficult when we got them out of the truck on Friday but we worked hard at it.

"The Cup car was just a little aggressive to drive and I had to work really hard to keep up with Smoke there.

"I was closing in, but he just didn't make a mistake. What a fantastic driver he is, he's just unbelievable.

"I just feel privileged to be racing against him and to drive for my team. I'm just so proud of all my guys. They've given me great stuff all year and JTG Daugherty is here to stay with the help of Michael Waltrip Racing and it's just really exciting times for us.

"Little Debbie is on our car. They've been off our car the last few races. They're back on board and we've got them a good result. Congratulations to them.

"I can't wait to have a shower and lie down. I'm pretty whipped."

QUESTION: Third last season in this race, second this season. I guess we can expect to see you back next year to try and go for that Number One spot?

"I'll try. As long as the team will have me, I'll drive for them."

MARCOS AMBROSE - Second Place Media Conference

"It's just a great weekend for us. We didn't quite have enough to get Tony there in the end but I threw everything I could at him.

"We got off strategy for some reason, just with the way the race rolled for us. We got stuck in the back of the back and had to make a gamble.

"We came in and splashed off on fuel and didn't put tyres on it. I think that was the difference between first and second this afternoon, just the extra laps I did on my tyres, probably about 8 or 10 laps more than Tony.

"I could close in on him and I could see him starting to make a few little mistakes, locking tyres and bits and pieces, but not enough to catch him.

"I'm pretty proud of my team. We didn't quite close the deal but it's just been a great weekend for us and I'm really, really excited for our future."

QUESTION: Yesterday, Darian Grubb (crew chief, #14 Tony Stewart) was talking about Tony and that this race might play right into his hands because it was going to be a hot, slick track. To Marcos, do you think that today played into Tony's hands?

"We missed (the set-up) just a little bit. I thought practice on Saturday was better than what we had today. It was on the edge the whole time.

"If I had the perfect line and did everything just right I could get away with it but the track was slick and we were slightly aggressive on our set-up. We didn't really get a chance to tune it either. I think we only changed a quarter-pound of tyre pressure all day because we were pitting under green and didn't really have time to do anything to it.

"All in all it's just a great track for us. I'd love to see better brakes because it's very hard to pass when you're brakes are so hot.

-credit: jtgr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Marcos Ambrose , David Reutimann , Kyle Busch , Sam Hornis
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing