Fontana II: Marcos Ambrose qualifying report

AMBROSE WALL-BANGS HIS WAY INTO PEPSI 500 IN CALIFORNIA Marcos Ambrose has pushed thew limit on his way to qualifying for the Pepsi 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California today. Ambrose clipped the wall...

AMBROSE WALL-BANGS HIS WAY INTO PEPSI 500 IN CALIFORNIA

Marcos Ambrose has pushed thew limit on his way to qualifying for the Pepsi 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California today.

Ambrose clipped the wall exiting Turn 4 on his qualifying lap around the 2.0-mile speedway -- a 'do or die' lap for the Australian, who had to qualify on speed for Sunday's race.

Ambrose held full throttle all the way to the finish line despite the slight brush with the concrete wall, setting a time fastest enough to qualify the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford Fusion in 40th position for this weekend's 250-lap race.

Ambrose will make his fifth Sprint Cup start in California and his fourth with Wood Brothers Racing. Ambrose will celebrate his 32nd birthday on Monday, making today's qualifying something of an early birthday present.

Earlier in the day Ambrose put the famous #21 Ford 41st in first practice. Ambrose worked with the Wood Brothers crew to improve the car set-up before qualifying, with Ambrose happy with the improvements made post-qualifying.

Two-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson won pole position for the Pepsi 500 ahead of AJ Allmendinger and Jeff Gordon.

In Nationwide Series practice Ambrose was 16th fastest and 13th fastest in the #59 Kingsford Ford Fusion in the two practice sessions held today.

MARCOS AMBROSE

"This is just great, because it's such a pressure situation to qualify on speed," said Ambrose.

"We hit the wall there but I wasn't going to back out of it. We had enough and that was great. We're in now for Sunday.

"We've put a mark on the side of the car and I think the tyre took a pretty good hit, but we're in the race. I'm very happy right now.

"It would have been a long weekend for everyone if we didn't get in. Now that we've qualified, it feels like that's all that matters, but we keep working now and make sure we get the car better for the race.

"It's really a big pressure on your shoulders in these qualifying runs. I want to get in for our great sponsors like Little Debbie and the Wood Brothers team and the people at Ford. It's good to get in for them and I appreciate it when it puts a smile on their faces.

"I've got great support in Australia and it's great to get into these races for everyone back home. I've got an outstanding personal sponsor in Jeld-Wen who has been with me since before my move to NASCAR and they've stuck by me. I've got a group of Aussie fans here with BAM Tours and they're going to be happy that I'm in the race now.

"There's a lot of people happy we got in -- especially me."

MARCOS AMBROSE -- POST-QUALIFYING Q & A

Q: MARCOS, YOU'RE IN THE RACE. WAS THE CAR BETTER IN QUALIFYING THAN IN PRACTICE?

"It's fine. We're in the race. That's all that matters. We had a bad practice. It was just really tough for me to get up to speed here and the guys overcompensated for me trying to tighten the car up.

"I didn't want to lift coming off of turn four. I knew I had to stay in it to try and get the lap completed and I hit the fence, and then I had to lift, so I did a pretty bad job there.

"But we're in the race and that's all that counts. I'm real excited about it."

Q: HOW HARD ARE THE WOOD BROTHERS WORKING TO GET THIS TEAM BACK WHERE IT BELONGS?

"I've got the highest respect for the Wood Brothers. They're down with their team, but they're building themselves back. It's just great to be part of it because they're really putting some stuff together and I'm excited for them."

-credit: ma/bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Marcos Ambrose
Teams Wood Brothers Racing