AMBROSE HEADS TO DAYTONA TESTING WITH NEW CREW CHIEF AND NEW TEAM STRUCTURE
Australian NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose has returned to the United States and is eager to begin his 2008 testing program at the first official NASCAR Nationwide Series test at Daytona International Speedway in Florida next week.
The test will be a pivotal and exciting one for Ambrose, who will use the testing to become acquainted with his new Crew Chief, Walter Giles, who joins JTG Racing from Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, where Giles was race engineer for the #1 car of Martin Truex Jr in the top flight NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
JTG Racing and Wood Brothers Racing implemented changes over the off-season, restructuring the team previously known as Wood Brothers/JTG Racing and creating two separate racing operations. Both teams continue to operate out of the same facility in Harrisburg, North Carolina.
As announced last November, Ambrose will campaign the Little Debbie Ford Fusion for Wood Brothers Racing in 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup (formerly Nextel Cup) events in 2008.
Ambrose will drive an additional four races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (formerly Nextel Cup) this season for JTG Racing, also with backing from McKee Foods and its Little Debbie Snack Cakes brand, the Australian entered in a #47 Ford Fusion with Giles serving as crew chief.
Giles has amassed an impressive list of NASCAR accomplishments since moving to America 12 years ago. The list is highlighted by his work last season with DEI driver Martin Truex Jr as he posted his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win and earned a spot in the Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship.
Giles is also an Australian, having lived in the United States and worked in the NASCAR industry for the past 12 years. Giles fronts a host of new recruits for JTG Racing, which has undergone a significant restructure over the off-season.
Butch Lamoreux has joined JTG Racing as Racing Operations Director, having been recruited last August to begin to reshape the organisation in preparation for a big season in 2008. Lamoreux joins the team from Hendrick Motorsports and before his stint at that championship-winning outfit, Lamoreux worked with JTG Racing co-owners Jodi and Tad Geschickter on their NASCAR Busch Series teams.
Industry-renowned engineer Ken Douglas has also joined JTG Racing, working as the outfit's new Technical Director. The Australian was an instrumental part of MoTeC Data Systems growth and development, driving the company's race data acquisition products to industry prominence.
From there Douglas joined Stone Brothers Racing in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series where he was the team's Director of Engineering. Douglas guided the team to three-consecutive V8 Supercar championship victories, the first two of these with Ambrose as the driver in 2003 and 2004 and a further title with Russell Ingall in 2005.
Another former engineer from Stone Brothers Racing, Paul Forgie, joins Douglas at JTG Racing. Forgie served as Ambrose's crew chief at Stone Brothers Racing in V8 Supercars and has also made the move to JTG Racing to work on research and development projects.
Ambrose's 2007 crew chief Greg Conner will front JTG Racing's research and development projects in 2008. In addition, Conner will serve as crew chief for Ambrose's #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Nationwide Series when JTG Racing embarks on an entry in the top flight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Nationwide Series (formerly NASCAR Busch Series) teams will converge on the 2.5-mile superspeedway from Friday, with Ambrose and his JTG Racing team beginning the first of three days of testing on Sunday January 20.
Ambrose finished eighth in last year's NASCAR Busch Series, also claiming second in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. His best finish came at Memphis where the driver from Launceston, Tasmania finished fourth, capping a season with six top 10 and 19 top 20 finishes for the Australian.
JTG Racing will again field two cars in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, with Kelly Bires returning to drive the #47 Clorox Ford Fusion as Ambrose's team-mate this season and Scott Zipadelli also returning as his crew chief.
JTG Racing will also maintain an entry in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, with Scott Lagasse Jr piloting the #20 Ford F-150 for JTG Racing in the ultra-competitive truck series in 2008.
WHAT THE TEAM HAD TO SAY --
MARCOS AMBROSE -- Driver, #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion
"I'm really excited about the year ahead," said Ambrose.
"We've retained a lot of the people from our 2007 campaign and added to the mix with some new recruits. It all looks very promising.
"We've got a new batch of cars lined up and things are looking good. Our team is all pulling in the same direction and is pumped about getting out there and getting back into it.
"Walter brings a lot of experience to this team. He's been around for a while now and he certainly came across because of how much knowledge and experience he has -- that he is originally from Australia is just a coincidence.
"I expect real benefit from having Walter on board and I'm looking forward to working with him starting this weekend at Daytona.
"With Walter coming on board and steering the ship and the likes of Butch, Ken and Paul strengthening us as a team, things are definitely coming along nicely.
"Daytona testing is quite different. It's a big track and aero and horsepower mean a lot. It gives us a chance to get back into the swing of things and see what we've got. I'm looking forward to it and our team has a great spirit at the moment, so things are very good."
TAD GESCHICKTER -- Co-Owner, JTG Racing
"Jodi and I are embarking on our 14th season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and we don't think things have ever seemed faster paced," said Geschickter.
"We also don't think we've ever been more excited about the team we've assembled for the upcoming season."
WALTER GILES -- Crew Chief, #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion
"I'm really excited to work with Marcos," said Giles.
"I've watched him for a long time, and have always been impressed with his skills in a race car. I feel that Ambrose has what it takes to be successful at any level of NASCAR."
-credit: JTG Racing