Las Vegas: JTG Racing, Ambrose race report

Ambrose Rises Above Challenges to Record Top 20 Finish in Las Vegas LAS VEGAS (March 3, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose recorded a solid 20th-place finish in the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after rising above many challenges throughout the ...

Ambrose Rises Above Challenges to Record Top 20 Finish in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (March 3, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose recorded a solid 20th-place finish in the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after rising above many challenges throughout the course of the 285-lapNASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

"We had a reallyfast No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Toyota, but a car hit us at the start of the race and crushed in the left rear panel," Ambrose said. "We ended up going two laps down. It's a shame because the car was good and at one point we were able to pass the leader and get one of our laps back. Later in the race, we ran into another problem under the hood and blew a gasket. It's just a shame because we had a top 10 car, but we'll take the top-20 finish after everything we went through and move on to Atlanta."

On Friday, Ambrose recorded his career-best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting position at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ambrose qualified fifth (29.117 seconds - 185.46 mph), but coming to the green flagon Sunday the Australian driver had to drop to the rear of the 43-car field due to an unexpected engine change. His teammate David Reutimann also had to change an engine.

When the green flag waved for the start of thethird race this season, the caution flag was displayedquickly when Brad Keselowski made contact with the wall. Crew chief Frank Kerr took the opportunity to make adjustments to the car.

Ambrose restarted 39th on Lap 5 as leader Jimmie Johnson showed the way. Two laps later, Todd Bodine's No. 64 car broke looseand was sideways in front of AmbrosewhileElliott Sadler slammed into the left rear side of the No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal0x00ae Toyota.

The JTG-Daugherty Racing team went to work on thesignificant damage to the left rear on Lap 8. Kerr called Ambrose back to pit road the next lap. Still under caution,the crewcleared away and taped up the sheet metal around the left rear tire. As Ambrose remained in his pit box on Lap 10, the field crossed the start-finish line and returned to green flag racing. The No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal0x00ae Toyota took off pit road in 41st-place. After all the repairs, Ambrose was two laps down with a loose handling car.

Even though Ambrose'sToyota was damaged, he was running lap times as fast as the leader Jimmie Johnson.

"We were really loose especially in Turns 3 and 4, but we had competitive times," Ambrose said.

On Lap 56, Ambrose made a green flag pit stop for four tires and a track bar and air pressure adjustment.

"We still had a bit of a tire rub and it was really loose on both ends," Ambrose said.

The JTG-Daugherty teamcontinued to service the car over a series of pit stops. At Lap 125 under caution, the over-the-wall crew made good changes and put on fresh tires that improved handling. Ambrose restarted 36th.

"After the restart, Frank saidwe probably hada seventh to 15th-place car," Ambrose said. "It was just disappointing that we got pinned two laps down because the car was fast."

Ambrose was indeed fast and even though he was 33rd, he was running with the top 10 cars. Then at Lap 163, Ambrose's teammate Michael Waltrip hit the wall bringing outthe ninth of 14 cautions that occurred during the race.

"The car was awesome, but just a little snug in the middle," Ambrose said. "The guys put on four tires and made a wedge adjustment. It was a great pit stop."

Ambrose was 32nd on the restart at Lap 168 and was sticking with the frontrunners desperately trying to get one of two of his laps back. On Lap 170, he charged by the leaderhJeff Burton) to impressively regain one of his laps. After he made the pass, the caution flag waved.

"It sure felt good to be out frontof the tire field even though I didn't lead," Ambrose said. "We were able to race to the front and get one of our laps back and thatwas just a great feeling."

On the restart at Lap 180, Ambrose was in position tobenefit from the next caution toadvance back onto the lead lap. However,the cautionthe teamwas hoping for right away did not occur.Then the lapped No. 78 machineof Regan Smith made slight contact with Ambrose to take over the coveted spot. As Ambrosekept Smith in sight, some of the frontrunners began green flag pit stops.When a cautionfinally occurred at Lap 221, it placed several cars one lapdown that had pitted under green flag conditions. That madeAmbrose seventh in lineof the cars one lap downandeven more difficult for himto advance back onto the lead lap.

"When the caution came out, the guysmade a track bar and air pressure adjustment andchangedtires," Ambrose said. "We were loose in and off. The car wouldn't idle either."

Restarting 21st, Ambrose foughthard to enter the top 20 and he did at Lap 229. He was still runningrespectable lap times even though he reported problems under the hood. At Lap 249, the car was loose in again and Ambrose thought he might have a tire going down because something did notfeel right. Under caution, the team was able to change right side tires and make necessary adjustments.

"It felt like we had a flat tire or the shocks collapsed or something," Ambrose said.bI'm not sure what was wrong. It was just crazy loose in and then tight in the middle."

Ambrose was 24th when the green flag waved at Lap 263 and as the laps dwindled he was able to renter the top 20 for a 20th-place finish. It was Ambrose's 14th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and first time at Las Vegas Motor Speedway behind the wheel of his Cup car. The 20th-place finish was his second top 20 finish out of three starts this season.J Marcos Ambrose is currentlyr0th in points through three race events this season.

-credit: jtgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Jimmie Johnson , Marcos Ambrose , David Reutimann , Regan Smith , Elliott Sadler , Brad Keselowski