Impressive Run at Bristol Leads to First Top 10 Finish of Season BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 23, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose turned in his bestNASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish of the season crossing the finish line in 10th place in the Food City 500 at ...
Impressive Run at Bristol Leads to First Top 10 Finish of Season
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 23, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose turned in his bestNASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish of the season crossing the finish line in 10th place in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ambrose was on his way to a top five finish after running as high as second place in the 500-lap event, but experienced problems under the hood of his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota after halfway that hindered his efforts. Ambrose and his team stayed focused and rallied together to earn a strong finish in race five of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
"We had such a great car and we had an awesome run," Ambrose said. "It's a shame we lost the number two and number four cylinder. So, we were running on six at the end, but somehow we brought it home. I'm really happy with our efforts. I mean to run up front like we did and come away with a top 10 finish is a good day for us. I really have to thank Tad and Jodi (Geschickter) for giving me this opportunity. If it wasn't for them, I probably wouldn't be standing here right now."
Ambrose also credited his strong performance to crew chief Frank Kerr, his JTG-Daugherty race team and Michael Waltrip Racing.
"We ran great all day and Frank Kerr, my crew chief, has saved my career," Ambrose said. "He's just getting me back on track and giving me good cars and good equipment.Man, the pit crew was awesome too and they should be proud of themselves.
Ambrose qualified 13th for his first short track experience in the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota at the .533-mile oval. As the green flag waved, the first caution quickly followed at Lap 26. Kerr elected to keep Ambrose on the track as other drivers ahead of him entered pit road.
Jimmie Johnson led the field to green flag on Lap 32 with Dave Blaney in second, Ambrose in third, Todd Bodine in fourth and Elliott Sadler in fifth. On that same lap, Blaney slid into John Andretti directly in front of the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry. Fortunately, Ambrose cleared the incident and moved into second place for the restart behind Johnson on Lap 38.
Wanting to lead a lap, Ambrose settled in behind the three time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. His car was tight in the middle, but the JTG-Daugherty Racing team had the opportunity to work on the car at Lap 64 under caution. They changed four tires and made an air pressure adjustment to help Ambrose roll through the middle better. Ambrose restarted 11th approaching Lap 70.
By Lap 123, Ambrose returned to the top five. He pitted again under caution at Lap 125 for more fresh Goodyear tires and another air pressure adjustment. His pit crew sent him back out in fifth place as the field took the green again four laps later.J Ambrose was a mainstay in the top five making his first time at Bristol in a Cup car look easy. His JTG-Daugherty Racing pit crew also made it a little easier on Ambrose as they made positive changes and kept him near the front of the field each time he pitted.
The fifth caution of the race at Lap 188 gave his pit crew another chance to work on the car. Ambrose entered pit road in fourth place and restarted fifth on Lap 195.
"It was jumping loose on me," Ambrose said. "The middle seemed to be okay."
Leader and eventual winner Kyle Busch led thefield with Jimmie Johnson in second, Denny Hamlin in third and Jeff Gordon in fourth. The lap car of Casey Mears separated Ambrose from fourth place. Finally Ambrose passed Mears on lap 205 and set his sights on Gordon.
Two laps later, Ambrose passed Gordon and snatched fourth place from the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
"It just feels great to be up there racing with those guys, passing Jeff Gordon," Ambrose said. "I mean, he's just a hero of mine. I've just watched him forever and just admired him so much. It's just a lot of fun. I'm learning the craft and hopefully these kind of runs will help me cement my reputation in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with my fellow drivers to showthat I can do it."
Still in fourth place at Lap 318 when the yellow flag waved, Ambrose was tight in the middle and loose off.
"They made an air pressure adjustment and changed four tires," Ambrose said. "I came in fourth and the guys got me out of there fast. They were on their game today."
Ambrose was fourth coming to the green at Lap 328 as Johnson continued to lead. At Lap 342, Ambrose radioed Kerr that something was wrong with his engine. The 32-year-old stated that the motor was running okay, but didn't have power. 11 laps later Ambrose slid to sixth.
Ambrose soldiered on and pitted under caution at Lap 446 for four tires. Restarting eighth three laps later, he was still concerned about his engine and his car was also hitting the ground too much. By Lap 481, Ambrose slipped to 10th place. He fought to keep Kurt Busch behind him to leave Bristol Motor Speedway with a top 10 finish.
"The car was great, but it was hitting the ground too hard," Ambrose said. "It's just a shame we had engine problems because we had a top five finish in our grasps. This is my very first COT race at a short track -- first time at Bristol in a COT and I'm just really excited with the result today and hopefully it leads to better things. I can't wait to get to Martinsville."