AMBROSE OVERCOMES LATE RACE ACCIDENT AT RICHMOND TO POST FIFTH TOP Marcos Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team scored their fifth top 15with an 11th-place finish Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. The team rebounded after ...
AMBROSE OVERCOMES LATE RACE ACCIDENT AT RICHMOND TO POST FIFTH TOP
Marcos Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team scored their fifth top 15with an 11th-place finish Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. The team rebounded after Ambrose had substantial damage to No. 47 Bush's Best Baked Beans Toyota from being shoved into the outside retaining wall with 94 laps remaining.
"Not sure what happened there, but Sam Hornish got into us and then we were in the wall," Ambrose said. We had a lot of damage to the rear end, but the crew worked on it and didn't give up.Thankfully we were able tostay on the lead lap and have a good finish."
The swift recovery by the JTG-Daugherty Racing team kept Ambrose 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points standings and closer to the top 12 cut off for The Chase. The team is now 120 points out of 12th heading into Darlington Raceway this weekend.
On Saturday, rain earlier in the day had NASCAR hustling to dry the .75-mile oval before the start of the 400-lap race. The event started as planned, but the first six laps were led by Brian Vickers under caution because the track was still damp. As NASCAR turned the 43-car field loose on Lap 7, Ambrose started from 21st position and was inside the top 20 by Lap 19 running lap times the same as leader Brian Vickers.
"We were loose off," Ambrose said.
By Lap 69, Ambrose was turning laps faster than leader Jeff Gordon. With his sights set on the top 10, the Australian driver marched into the top 15 at Lap 87. Ten laps later under green he was on pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. When a caution occurred at Lap 114, Ambrose was in 11th place when he drove back onto pit road.
"The Bush's Best Baked Beans Toyota was a little tight, but it was good other than that at the time," Ambrose said. "It didn't seem like it was getting full power until the start finish line though."
Following the team changing four tires and making more adjustments, Ambrose restarted 11th on Lap 121. A moment later, Ambrose communicated to crew chief Frank Kerr that he was loose off the corners. As he maintained his top 15 run the car's handling worsened. The over-the-wall crew took another stab at it on Lap 151 under caution.
Less than 20 laps later, the yellow flag waved again. Kerr and Ambrose wanted to try something different so the crew put on only two tires and made adjustments. On Lap 183, the pit crew was hoping for a caution because Ambrose had no grip. Ambrose slid outside the top 15 eight laps later.
The JTG-Daugherty team caught a break and Ambrose returned to pit road at Lap 192. He restarted 15th five laps later, but his car continued to have handling issues. Even though his car was a handful, Ambrose was back inside the top 15.
"We were tight in the middle and loose off," Ambrose said as he entered pit road on lap 213 under caution.
Following a track bar adjustment, pulling a quarter rubber out and four tires, the No. 47 Bush's Best Baked Beans Toyota team was scored in 17th place.
As the car did not respond to the changes positively, Kerr had the team put the track bar back where it was, put a rubber in the left rear and make a small air pressure adjustment on Lap 274.
"The No. 47 Bush's Best Baked Beans Toyota was a handful," Ambrose said. "We would get a handle on it and then we would lose it."
On Lap 285, the team elected to stay out when the caution flag waved again.
"We were really tight through the middle and loose off," Ambrose said.
"We had only run five green flag laps," Kerr said. "So, we stayed out there."
Shown in 13th place as the field took the green, Ambrose went back to work and was focused on capturing his third top ten of the season.
On Lap 306, his efforts were derailed as the No. 26 car of Jamie McMurray and the No. 77 car of Sam Hornish Jr. slid up the track. The contact made to the No. 47 Bush's Best Baked Beans Toyota by the No. 77 car sent Ambrose spinning into the outside retaining wall in Turn 2.
There was substantial damage to the rear end of the No. 47 Bush's Best Baked Beans Toyota. Ambrose came in on Lap 308, 309 and 311 for tires, repairs and fuel.
As Ambrose was leaving pit road on Lap 312, the field took the green. Fortunately, the caution flag was displayed immediately as Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin was involved in an incident. Ambrose was back on pit road. After all the adjustments and repairs were made, the 32-year-old restarted 21st on Lap 317.
An accident involving Jimmie Johnson, David Stremme and Kasey Kahne on Lap 325 allowed the team to put on four tires and make another track bar adjustment under caution.
"It was loose in and tight in the middle," Ambrose said. "The crew did a great job of repairing the car and they didn't give up. They just kept working at it."
With 50 laps to go, Ambrose settled into the top 15. The JTG-Daugherty team had one last chance to work on the car at Lap 358 under caution.
"We did what we could to repair the car and we told Marcos to do what he could and that we were not coming back in," Kerr said. "Marcos did an amazing job. He almost had another top 10 finish. This time with a car that was wrecked. He's impressive."
Ambrose almost captured his third top 10 of the season by crossing the finish line in 11th-place. Kyle Busch won the event, Tony Stewart finished second, Jeff Burton finished third, Ryan Newman finished fourth and Mark Martin rounded out the top five.
After a two-day Goodyear tire test on Monday and Tuesday, Marcos Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty team travel to Darlington Raceway for race number 11 on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit.