Marcos Ambrose dominated proceedings today at Infineon Raceway in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, until a costly problem under a late race caution robbed the Australian of his maiden NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. After running away from the field,...
Marcos Ambrose dominated proceedings today at Infineon Raceway in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, until a costly problem under a late race caution robbed the Australian of his maiden NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
After running away from the field, a late race yellow flag caution period saw Ambrose stall when attempting to save fuel.
Unable to keep pace with the field, Ambrose dropped back, with the NASCAR officials ordering him to restart the race in eighth, from where he was able to work his way back up to sixth position at the chequered flag.
Four time champion Jimmie Johnson went on to claim his first ever road course win, after he and Ambrose battled hard all race long.
Ambrose however had the upper hand on Johnson in the second half of the race, leading for a total of 36 laps, with clearly the quickest car in the final portion of the race.
"We went so close today, we almost crossed that bridge," Ambrose said.
"Under the last caution, the team told me to save fuel, but unfortunately the car stalled and wouldn't crank over.
"We showed everyone out there today that we could win, we had the measure of Jimmie Johnson, it's just a terrible way to finish.
"It is what it is, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but we'll go away and come back stronger next time."
After topping all three practice sessions, Ambrose lined up at the start from position six, and immediately stamped his authority on the field by moving swiftly through to second behind Johnson.
After an early caution that was brought out by Clint Bowyer, Ambrose remained on the circuit, sticking to the team's pit strategy by making a green flag stop on lap 25 of 110.
Using newer tyres to his advantage, Ambrose leapt ahead of Johnson on the track, but Johnson snuck back past while debutant Mattias Ekstrom led the race.
After another green flag stop, Ambrose found himself saving fuel when the caution flag flew again for Dave Blaney.
After Johnson pitted, Ambrose was able to force his way past Boris Said and Tony Stewart to take the lead, his first laps led since the final event last season at Homestead.
The third caution of the day came out for Brad Keselowski, however the restart from that incident saw a massive pile up involving Martin Truex Jnr, Denny Hamlin, Sam Hornish Jnr and Max Papis, which prompted an extensive clean up under a red flag.
Once racing finally got under way, Ambrose and Johnson sprinted away from the field, with the race essentially coming down to the final round of green flag pit stops.
Johnson played his hand first, jumping into the pits ahead of Ambrose, but the JTG Daughterty Racing crew turned the number 47 Toyota Camry around in a magic stop, to maintain a slender lead.
After yet another yellow flag when Joey Lagano went off, Ambrose was able to walk away from Johnson on the restart, who by this stage was struggling with an ill-handling car.
When the seventh and final caution occurred on lap 103 of 110, Ambrose slowed on the circuit, unable to keep pace with the field, relegating him down the order.
The restart proved to be a wild affair, with Ambrose taking to the grass before making contact with Jeff Burton.
Ambrose raced Jeff Gordon had to the finish in the closing stages, but was unable to find a way past, with sixth place the team's best result for the season to date.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now moves back to oval track racing mode, with the one mile long oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 next weekend.
-source: marcos ambrose PR