Phoenix: JTG Racing, Ambrose race report

Ambrose and JTG-Daugherty Racing Record Another Top 15 Finish and JTG Racing Email AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 19, 2009) -- On Saturday night, Marcos Ambrose crossed the finish line 14th with his No. 47 Clorox ® Toyota Camry in the...

Ambrose and JTG-Daugherty Racing Record Another Top 15 Finish and

JTG Racing Email AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 19, 2009) -- On Saturday night, Marcos Ambrose crossed the finish line 14th with his No. 47 Clorox ® Toyota Camry in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was his third top 15 finish and fifth top 20 finish in eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts this season.

Ambrose advanced two positions to 26th in the driver championship standings and is currently 169 markers out of 12th place occupied by Matt Kenseth. Jeff Gordon leads the standings with Jimmie Johnson in second, Kurt Busch in third, Tony Stewart in fourth and Denny Hamlin rounds out the top five.

"It felt good running in the top 10 in only my second time at Phoenix in a Cup car and we were able to pick up a couple spots in the points standings," Ambrose said. "The points are still pretty close and we're not far outside the top 12. That feels pretty good for us."

On Friday, Ambrose was the first of 48 drivers to attempt to qualify for the 312-lap event at the one-mile desert oval. After turning a lap of 27.190 seconds, he started 29th among the 43 car field. Mark Martin won the pole (26.903 seconds).

At the start of the race on Saturday, the No. 47 Clorox ® Toyota Camry was loose in and off and tight in the middle. Under the first caution of the race, the JTG-Daugherty Racing team took their first stab at adjusting the problem on Lap 55. They changed four tires and pulled a quarter sprint rubber out of the left rear.

"The Clorox ® Camry was loose in, pushing the nose, had no forward bite and the left front was real high," Ambrose said. "I couldn't keep the left front down."

Ambrose restarted in 20th-place on Lap 59. The pit crew had another opportunity to improve handling at Lap 102. They worked on the car for a second time under caution.

"It had no forward bite and was chattering the right front and loose off," Ambrose said.

The Australian driver went back to work at Lap 108 in 23rd place and returned to the top 20 eight laps later. After more adjustments on Lap 139 under caution, Ambrose was still battling being loose in and loose off and tight in the middle. He was back on pit road on Lap 152 under caution. The team changed two tires and inserted a spring rubber in the right rear to try to tighten up the No. 47 Clorox ® Toyota Camry on entry and exit. They were still trying to get the left corner down.

The field took the green again on Lap 155 and Ambrose was occupying 24th place. The frontrunners pitted under the next caution at Lap 167, but the No. 88 entry of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ambrose stayed out on the track. The call to stay out by crew chief Frank Kerr positioned Ambrose in second place.

The next eight laps, Ambrose stayed in second. On Lap 177, 14-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner Kyle Busch was on the inside of his Clorox ® Camry, but Ambrose was able to hold on to the spot for another lap. As Busch finally passed Ambrose, he brought four-time Cup champion and points leader Jeff Gordon along with him. Ambrose was then fourth on Lap 179 and Tony Stewart (who finished second) was in his mirror with fresher tires.

Finally, on Lap 183 Stewart made the pass. With older tires, Ambrose slid out of the top five the next lap and his car was loose off and tight in the middle. Even though Ambrose fell back to eighth ten laps later, he was running lap times as same as Earnhardt Jr., who maintained the lead.

Kerr called Ambrose to pit road under green at Lap 231 for four tires and a chassis adjustment. Once everyone pitted, Ambrose was back to his top 10 run and climbed to seventh on Lap 246. Ten laps later, Ambrose radioed to his team that the Clorox ® Camry had lost grip. With the car having no grip, Ambrose fought to stay inside the top 10. On Lap 273, Martin Truex Jr. battled Ambrose for tenth and made the pass.

At Lap 299, Kerr communicated to Ambrose that they did not have enough fuel to go to the end.

"We were going to have to splash and go," Kerr said.

Ambrose was running 15th and it appeared that he was going to have to pit under green and give up his track position in the next lap or two. Luckily for the JTG-Daugherty Racing team, the yellow flag waved at Lap 300 for an accident involving Casey Mears and Earnhardt Jr. The team came in for fuel and also changed two tires and made a wedge adjustment on the Clorox ® Camry.

The field restarted on Lap 306 and in the next six laps Ambrose maintained a top 15 run to go on to finish 14th.

Next week, Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team head to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron's 499.

-credit: jtgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Marcos Ambrose , Martin Truex Jr. , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin