Pocono: Marcos Ambrose race report

SIXTH PLACE FOR AMBROSE IN POCONO 500 Marcos Ambrose has enjoyed one of his strongest performances at Sprint Cup level with sixth place in the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania today. After admitting that he was...

SIXTH PLACE FOR AMBROSE IN POCONO 500

Marcos Ambrose has enjoyed one of his strongest performances at Sprint Cup level with sixth place in the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania today.

After admitting that he was struggling in practice yesterday, Ambrose found form in the 200-lap event to run with the front pack for the majority of the race at the tough 2.5-mile tri-oval.

The result, which came at his first appearance at Pocono, lifts Ambrose to 18th in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series standings after the first 14 events of the Australian's first full season at the top level of NASCAR.

Ambrose entered the final stages of the race in seventh place aboard his #47 Little Debbie-backed JTG Daugherty Racing entry, passing defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on the final lap to take sixth place.

It is his third top 10 finish and his ninth top 20 finish from 14 points races this season. Today's sixth place is Ambrose's third-best Sprint Cup finish (behind third place at Watkins Glen in 2008 and fourth place at Talladega earlier this year).

Ambrose started from 20th position after qualifying was rained out and the field set by owner's points. Ambrose could only manage 32nd and 36th in the two practice sessions held yesterday.

It was another strong run for the Michael Waltrip Racing stable, with David Reutimann finishing in third place. Ambrose's JTG Daugherty Racing entry is run in collaboration with MWR.

Tony Stewart won today's Pocono 500 ahead of Carl Edwards, Reutimann, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Ambrose, with the final laps of the race a balancing act of hard racing to the flag while conserving fuel to reach the finish.

Ambrose will look to continue his strong form in the LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway next weekend.

WHAT MARCOS HAS TO SAY:

"It's a historic track here in the US, it's a really, really tough place and very intimidating to get around with high speeds, corners that are odd-shaped and the surface is old and bumpy," said Ambrose.

"I was a little daunted coming here. I'm just pleased to leave here with a top 10 and we've helped ourselves in the points.

"It turned into a fuel mileage race in the end and that being said we had a good car all day anyway so we deserved our result today.

"I'm proud of my team and I'm really proud to get a result like that at a place like Pocono.

"We were really close on fuel in the end. You can lean the motors out and try to save fuel before the race starts with different jet settings and we opted to go for full power, which used a lot of fuel.

"So we were probably more vulnerable than most. So we stopped before that last restart knowing that we had to top off and we tried to save fuel all the way through the run. We haven't measured it yet but I imagine it was very, very close.

"I was actually really bad in practice and we did a lot of really hard work overnight to try and make the car better. It was just an experience fighting out there with everybody else racing side by side.

"I quickly learned where to put my car and what I should do. I'm just really proud that I adapted so fast and I'm pleased with my team. We've had a tough couple of weeks so it's good to bounce back with another solid top 10 and get ourselves back in the points chase. I'm really excited about our future.

"We're not really looking at the Chase. If I can finish between 15th and 25th in the championship I'll feel like it's been a good year for us.

"We've got some road course races coming up and we feel like we are a chance to win those. We've done a lot of hard work already this season trying to get ready and today was a big step forward for our confidence and momentum and hopefully it can lead to better things.

"Pocono has got nothing to do with road courses. This place is insane how hard it is. It's like no place I've ever been in my life.

"Great day for our team. We had a fast car regardless of fuel strategy. It's the first time I've had to save fuel at this level so I didn't know what to do so I was very conservative.

"I'm proud of my guys for putting me in that position and looking forward to next week and the next week and the next week.

"I've got to work on my elbow strength, because my elbows are worn out. I've been working them all day.

"So it's a tough place I think it's one of my favorite tracks. It's really tough to get around."

-credit: ma/bam media

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Marcos Ambrose , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing