AMBROSE SCORES SECOND CAREER TOP-FIVE WITH FOURTH-PLACE FINISH AT TALLADEGA TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose avoided a spectacular crash on the final lap of the Aaron's 499 to finish fourth in his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota...
AMBROSE SCORES SECOND CAREER TOP-FIVE WITH FOURTH-PLACE FINISH AT TALLADEGA
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 27, 2009) -- Marcos Ambrose avoided a spectacular crash on the final lap of the Aaron's 499 to finish fourth in his No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday afternoon. Ambrose's first top-five finish of the season catapulted his JTG-Daugherty Racing team seven positions in the owner point standings to 19th-place.
"We had a really good points day and everyone did an awesome job," Ambrose said. "But, man that was a wild finish and it was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen coming across the finish line looking at a car (Carl Edwards' No. 99 Aflac entry) upside down like that. We fortunately escaped and were able to bring home our first top-five finish this year. I made three good choices today to get up there and we were able to capitalize in the end."
Ambrose scored his second-career top five finish during the dramatic final lap. Approaching the finish line, Carl Edwards' No. 99 car launched into air and hit the fence after contact was made with Brad Keselowski -- who had pushed him to the front to take the lead from Ryan Newman.
"I'm just glad everyone is alright," Ambrose said. "This is crazy racing, it really is. It's insanity on four wheels."
Indeed things happen quickly at the 2.66-mile tri-oval and as Ambrose started the 188-lap race from 34th-place he received a notice only seven laps later. Contact made between Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon's cars set off a synchronized spin of several other cars. Luckily, Ambrose was able to escape the m0x00eal0x00e9e and not hit anything.
"We didn't hit anyone, but we spun out trying not to," Ambrose said.
Crew chief Frank Kerr radioed the team to have everything ready in case there was damage to the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota. Ambrose thought the splitter was bent somewhat after he spun.
"I was trying to avoid the wreck," Ambrose said. "It was a comedy act really, but we were okay."
The JTG-Daugherty Racing crew went to work on the Little Debbie Toyota on Lap 9 to change four tires, add fuel and make sure the car was in good shape. Ambrose restarted 11th five laps later. On Lap 20, he drifted back and awaited his next pit stop that came at Lap 30 for four fresh tires and a chassis adjustment.
He took the green flag again at Lap 34 and was in 16th-place. Riding around comfortably, Ambrose was just waiting for the right time to make his charge to the front. On Lap 42, Ambrose did a great job of keeping control of his car as Michael Waltrip's No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota slid across his nose and went spinning around in the tri-oval.
Ambrose came in for the team to check for damage on Lap 43. They changed right-side tires and made a small repair. Ambrose returned to the track in 21st place for the restart.
On Lap 61 under caution, Ambrose was back on pit road for right-side tires again and a chassis adjustment. He was then in ninth place coming to the green four laps later.
Martin Truex Jr. showed the way and by Lap 67 Ambrose was in the top five running fifth. Six laps later, Ambrose found himself tightly packed in the middle and shuffled back to 19th the next lap.
His next yellow flag pit stop at Lap 85 gave the team a chance to make sure Ambrose's fenders were not bent and they also changed four tires. Restarting 18th at Lap 88, Ambrose hung out in the top 20.
Another caution at Lap 123 allowed the JTG-Daugherty team to change four tires. On Ambrose's next stop under caution at Lap 147, Kerr called for two tires only. The No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota restarted 15th.
Things started to heat up inside 20 laps to go. Leading since Lap 154, Kyle Busch spun in Turn 4 on Lap 171 after Jeff Burton's car made contact with his. Ambrose was sixth on the restart at Lap 175 with Matt Kenseth shown as the new leader, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in second, Jeff Burton in third, Kurt Busch in fourth and Joey Logano in fifth. With nine laps to go and everyone tightly packed together, the ninth caution of the race occurred and several cars were knocked out of contention (No. 1,7,11,12,41,42,48,55,77,96).
As the field restarted with four laps remaining, Ambrose was seventh with Ryan Newman leading the field. As Newman was down on the bottom, the two cars of Edwards and Keselowski blew by him up top. The final lap was shocking as Edwards broke loose when contact was made between him in Keselowski in front of Ambrose. Edwards' car went airborne while trying to block Keselowski from his first career win. Keselowski won the event, Earnhardt Jr. finished second. Newman was collected in Edwards crash, but still finished third. Ambrose was able to escape unscathed and almost match his career-best finish (third-place at Watkins Glen International) with his fourth-place effort.
"He's the real deal," Kerr said. "He did a great job today. He was patient and was there at the end. We had a great points day. It was good to see him do so well with our sponsors at Talladega to see it firsthand."
Next up for Ambrose and his JTG-Daugherty Racing team is Richmond International Raceway.