Daytona 500: JTG Racing, Ambrose race report

Ambrose Records Solid 17th-Place Finish in Rain-Shortened Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 16, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose and the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota JTG-Daugherty team finished 17th in the rain-shortened Daytona 500 Sunday evening.

Ambrose Records Solid 17th-Place Finish in Rain-Shortened Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 16, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose and the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota JTG-Daugherty team finished 17th in the rain-shortened Daytona 500 Sunday evening. The field completed 152 of 200 laps before rain fell hard enough upon the 2.5-mile tri-oval to force NASCAR to call the drivers to pit road and eventually cancel the raceapproximately 20 minutes later.

"It was an amazing experience," Ambrose said. "It's nothing like I've experienced before. I had an incredible time and a busy couple of weeks leading up to the Daytona 500. To see all the fans in the stands was really spectacular. On top of the fans coming out, there were so many celebrities that showed up like Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman and Keith Urban to name a few. I made some new friends myself with two Atlanta Braves players -- Peter Moylan and Phil Stockman -- from Australia. We got to hang out and I'm going to try to catch a few Braves games this year. Stylez G. White with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also came out and hung out with our teams. My first Daytona was pretty special."

The top-20 finish advanced Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team to 17th-place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner championship standings. His teammates Michael Waltrip (two-time Daytona 500 champion) and David Reutimann also had solid finishes. Waltrip had the top finishing Toyota (seventh-place) with his No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Camry followed by Reutimann (12th-place) with his No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Camry.

The Australian driver started the 51st running of the Daytona 500 in 23rd-place. Not long after the green flag waved for his 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, Ambrose began to settle into his seat and communicate the handling of his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry to crew chief Frank Kerr.

Ambrose reported early on that he was experiencing his car being loose up at the top of the track, but he was still pleased with the overall performance. The crew had an opportunity to put on four fresh Goodyear tires at Lap 9 under caution.

Right after his first pit stop of the season and restarting in 31st-place, Ambrose told Kerr that he was really loose in and through the middle.

Kerr reminded Ambrose that NASCAR was implementing a competition yellow at Lap 25, which would give the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota pit crew an opportunity to change tires and make a track bar and air pressure adjustment.

"The Little Debbie Toyota was really loose in and quite a bit different from our first run," Ambrose said. "It would really get loose when I tried to run up top. On the bottom of the track the handling seemed to be good, but the car was a bit slow down there and it was hitting the track."

On Lap 29, Ambrose restarted in 36th-place with the car handling better on entry. 27 laps later under caution, Ambrose headed to pit road for additional service to his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry.

"They put on four tires, made another track bar adjustment and worked on keeping the car from hitting the track," Ambrose said.

When Ambrose left pit road, he was shown in 34th-place. As the green flag waved again at Lap 59, he continued to battle a loose-handling car.

"On our next pit stop, they made another track bar adjustment and changed four tires," Ambrose said. "It was loose in and loose off. The guys just kept working on it and didn't give up. When they pitted the car the next time, they made another track bar adjustment and changed four tires again."

Restarting in 29th-place at Lap 85, Ambrose continued to communicate to Kerr that he wanted a few more adjustments to his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota.

"At that point the car was really loose in the front," Ambrose said. "We had another caution and they were able to make it better."

Ambrose was 27th when the field went back to green on Lap 123. All the sudden, a big wreck happened as the field was making its way back around the track. The No. 83 car of Brian Vickers and the No. 88 car of Dale Earnhardt Junior made contact setting off a chain reaction collecting several other cars.

Ambrose escaped unscathed and after the smoke settled, he benefited by advancing to 17th-place in the running order. With rain looming in the area, crew chief Frank Kerr made the call to keep Ambrose out on the track and not pit.

Moments later, rain drops started to fall and at Lap 128 NASCAR called off their decision to go back green flag racing for a few more laps. Finally on Lap 132, NASCAR turned the field loose again and Ambrose was 17th.

Another caution occurred when the No. 31 car of Jeff Burton slid up the banking into the No. 98 entry of Paul Menard and the outside retaining wall. Back to green flag racing at Lap 142, Ambrose still occupied 17th-place.

Three laps later the No. 8 of Aric Almirola slid down the track into the grass bringing out another caution. While Ambrose drove around the track under caution, he radioed Kerr that it was raining. As it started to drizzle, Matt Kenseth led the field to the start-finish line.

The rainfall steadily increased and at Lap 152, NASCAR brought the field down pit road to park the cars. The drivers climbed out of their cars hoping that the weather would subside. Within a half-hour, NASCAR called the race and Kenseth was declared the Daytona 500 winner.

Next up for Ambrose and the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry team is the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday February 22nd.

-credit: jtgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Marcos Ambrose , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , Aric Almirola , Tom Cruise