Atlanta: JTG Racing, Ambrose race report

Ambrose Out of the Cup Race Early at Atlanta Motor Speedway HAMPTON, Ga. (March 9, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose was looking to build upon a strong start to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when engine woes ultimately halted his efforts at ...

Ambrose Out of the Cup Race Early at Atlanta Motor Speedway

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 9, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose was looking to build upon a strong start to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when engine woes ultimately halted his efforts at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ambrose completed 179 of 330 laps in his No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Toyota and was credited with a 38th-place finish. The Australian driver still remains solidly in the top 35 owner point standings and currently occupies 28th-place after the fourth race of the year.

"We blew up and I'm not sure what went wrong there," Ambrose said. "We were trucking along there pretty good. We lost a cylinder for about 50 laps and then it finally went. I just hoped I didn't oil the track down for everybody else. It's been an unfortunate day for us -- we had a lot of speed here in practice and its just shame that we couldn't convert."

After posting the ninth-fastest time in practice on Friday, the 34-year-old was hoping for a similar result in qualifying. With challenging track conditions, Ambrose qualified 34th. In final practice on Saturday afternoon, the JTG-Daugherty was able to make gains with the No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Toyota and was able to finish up 11th on the board.

"I was not happy with where we qualified because we were much better than that," Ambrose said. "Going into the race, we new we had a really fast piece. I was happy with the changes the guys made because we were really good in final practice on Saturday. The car was fast."

Right away at the start of the race the caution flag was thrown for the No. 43 car (Reed Sorenson) making contacting with the outside retaining wall. Only 10 laps later, Ambrose dodged a bullet when Bobby Labonte's No. 96 entry broke loose sideways in front of him. He took evasive action and went high against the outside retaining wall to avoid hitting Labonte.

Still under caution,crew chief Frank Kerr called Ambrose to pit road at Lap 13 for four tires and a half of a round track bar adjustment. They were focused on adjusting his loose handling Toyota that was snapping loose coming out of the banking at the 1.54-mile quad-oval.

On Lap 15, Ambrose restarted 34th and broke into the top 25 on Lap 32. As the Kingsford Charcoal Toyota loosened up more and became a handful, leader and eventual winner Kurt Busch placed Ambrose one lap down at Lap 58 while running in 23rd place.

At Lap 65, Ambrose entered pit road in 20th place for four tires, a wedge and air pressure adjustment under green flag conditions. While Ambrose was on pit road, a routine pit stop did not go as planned for the JTG-Daugherty Racing team. With the No. 47 and 98 cars pitted tightly together, one of the crew members from the Menards team pushed out one of Ambrose's tires during a four tire stop. As the tire rolled across pit road onto an access road on the frontstretch, a JTG-Daugherty Racing crew memberhJimmy Watts) chased after the tire. His action caused a caution pinning several cars a lap down including Ambrose. The team was then two laps down.

"I'll look at the tape because I'm not sure what happened there," Ambrose said. "We certainly don't want to ruin anybody's race -- especially NASCAR's. We want to play by the rules and do everything right."

The team regrouped and placed the incident behind them to redirecttheir focus to the race.

"At that time, we were loose in the middle and off," Ambrose said. "It was just crazy loose."

On Lap 104, the over-the-wall crew pitted the Kingsford Charcoal Toyota under caution for four tires and more adjustments. Ambrose was 31st, but Kerr was reading off Ambrose's lap times and told Ambrose his car was easily a top 15 car. Ambrose restarted 30th at Lap 107 and 15 laps later he advanced to 23rd place.

"He was turning some good laps," Kerr said. "He looked really good coming off the corners. Because he was loose in and loose off, we made a track bar and wedge adjustment to try to help him. He had a top 15 car. It's just a shame we were two laps down."

While Ambrose continued his progress, his teammate David Reutimann radioed to his crew chief Rodney Childers on Lap 127 that he thought he dropped a cylinder. Seven laps later, Ambrose reported to Kerr that he smelled oil and was concerned that something was wrong with his engine too.

"We told him to stick it out and make the best of it," Kerr said. "We were hoping for the best."

Kerr brought Ambrose to pit road when the caution came out again at Lap 157.

"The guys took a look under the hood to see if they could figure out the problem," Kerr said.

Ambrose came back down pit road in 27th place at Lap 160 for four tires and restarted 34th two laps later.

"We were concerned about the engine, but stayed focused on finishing the race," Kerr said. "We brought him back in for tires and made a wedge adjustment. We were just trying to go to the end."

Around Lap 181, Ambrose's communicated to Kerr that his engine expired and was heading to the garage.

"There's a lot of motor issues this year for all manufacturers," Ambrose said. "I don't really know -- I'm just driving it. I'm not privy to the insides of the motors as to what's really happening. It's a shame for us, but we'll bounce back at Bristol Motor Speedway in a couple weeks. We've had a great start to our season and we'll turn up at Bristol and hopefully get it done there."

Following a weekend off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Bristol Motor Speedway.

-credit: jtgr

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , David Reutimann , Reed Sorenson