NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Topics: Toyota/Save Mart 350
June 21, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Tony, congratulations. Thank you.
We're now joined by driver of the No. 47 Little Debbie Kingsford Clorox Toyota, Marcos Ambrose. Tell us about your run.
MARCOS AMBROSE: I thought I was at Eldora all day. It was just really slippery. Those rear tires just didn't have a lot of forward grip. It's fast on the roll, but just getting the power to the ground is hard. We've got a lot of power in these Cup cars, and you've got your work cut out for you. I was hot, I was mad, I was happy, I was sad all together.
I'm just proud of my team, JTG Dougherty, having trusted me to drive their car, and took a chance putting me in. No one really knew what I was all about, and I just want to thank them. I thank Michael Waltrip Racing, too, for giving us great support, just an awesome combination right now, great group of guys.
We had a bad day yesterday. We were in the hole pretty good. They just rallied around me and gave me the support I needed, the confidence to go out there today to just get aggressive and get to it and not skip a beat.
Q. You had great training for this last year at Watkins Glen. When you look at this, you say the team, but everything that you guys went through in the last couple of days and then the wreck and happy hour, it just kept coming, but you would not be held back. Is this just your determination and resolve?
MARCOS AMBROSE: I even cut myself shaving this morning. That's how bad this weekend has gone. We've just got a resilient attitude, never-say-die attitude, and when you're having a bad day -- we made it worse yesterday in happy hour, whatever happened there, and just really proud of my guys for giving me the support that I needed and the car that I needed to do what we did today.
You know, it's just a tough world, the Cup racing scene. There is no easy lap, there is no easy day. It's intense, especially those restarts, and just really just never give up.
I knew what to expect, unfortunately, from Watkins Glen last year. That was a long day, and I think today was just as long if not longer. I think the car is sort of straight. Sort of. Most of the damage is in the front and side. There's not too much in the back, which is a good sign.
Q. You came in at the beginning of the race, toward the beginning of the race and you pitted early and seemed to have a different pit cycle or trying to do something different than anybody else. With the way the cautions played out, in the long run did that help you or did that make you have to really work harder and gain the positions on the track?
MARCOS AMBROSE: We'll have to look back and see how it all played out. I felt like I passed 200 cars, so maybe it didn't (laughter).
Our plan was just to get going, see how far I could get up there, and then if I was getting held up too long, just come in and get out of there. I was just so worried about when they were all getting wadded up and the tires are down, just so easy to get damage and not really show any speed. I just complained and whinged on the radio until they said, yeah, come on in, get some tires, let's go, and we just got out of sequence.
We ran a heavy fuel strategy, too. We ran a lot of fuel today trying to set ourselves up to pass cars, and we didn't have the fuel mileage that many others had. So we knew we couldn't do it just on stretching fuel mileage, so we had to do it on speed. So just getting clean air, staying out of all that riff-raff I think played -- at least got us to lap 70 before we really got back in the pack again, and I think that helped.
Q. I guess that No. 13 table luck ran out for you. Before the last restart, you were running about a second and a half to two seconds behind Tony and Kasey. Was it just lack, again, of the rear tire grip where you couldn't close up on them, or were you hoping they might wreck each other?
MARCOS AMBROSE: No, we had four laps of practice, and we just didn't know how our rear tires were going to wear. We went to a package that we thought was going to look out for the tires, and it proved to probably be worse for the tires because the car was rolling around too much. So during the pit stops, I knocked around with the track bar, getting it up, one side only, which I can't stand, but I like to do everything together at a road course, left and right, it's all the same.
So unfortunately we were limited in what we could do. Then I just burnt the rear tires off it. I couldn't keep the tires underneath me for long enough. We're going to have to go back home and have a good hard look at what some other guys did.
Following Smoke, I could see his rear end pretty good. I've got a photographic memory; I'll just go back and draw it on paper and say, hey, I want it just like this. I think Smoke had the fastest car there on the longer run, just Kasey had track position and he was good on the restarts on that outside lane.
Just proud of my team because we had limited time on Saturday to get ready for it, and those rear tires were shot. A lot of guys had trouble with forward bite, us less so, but if we were going to win the race, that's our weak spot.
Q. Can you describe how those final couple of restarts worked for you, and was it fun?
MARCOS AMBROSE: Intense. It's no fun. I mean, we had like the downhill to go before the white flag, and we were going to finish it, and then the caution comes out for the green-white checker. You know that you can go from 3rd to 33rd with one mistake after putting in all that effort all day.
I think all of us just wanted to bring it home somehow, and you know, I really wanted to attack Smoke. He deserved second. I wasn't going to take it off him unless I had a clean pass. I just couldn't get to his bumper bar in time. Jimmie was peppering my bumper. Just bring it home; that's all I was thinking.
You can go so pear-shaped on those restarts, just for the result, one lap to go, you're running 3rd to 33rd, I just didn't want to take that chance. It's very much a pressure environment when it's like that.
Q. I wanted to ask you, going into this race with Kasey Kahne, he did not have the track record that would say he would be a candidate to win this race with his finishes. In the little time you've been in this series, have you been able to be around him enough on a road course to be able to see or were you able to gauge what he was able to do today?
MARCOS AMBROSE: I can't normally get close enough to Kasey because there's too many girls hanging around (laughter).
You know, he was doing it. I mean, he was running that car as hard as it would go, and Smoke is one of the best road racers there is. I'd like to think that I'm half okay, Jimmie Johnson -- I mean, he beat us on speed, and he got the pole here last year. He deserves -- he's a road race winner now, and he did it on his speed, he didn't do it on fuel mileage or anything else. He was fast, and he deserves it, absolutely.
Q. Pretty close to the end there, I think it was the 11 car gave you a pretty narrow racing line looking at the end of the pit lane. Can you tell me about that experience and was it as hair-raising for you as it was for us?
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, I saw what was happening, and I thought, I'm going to have a headache because I thought I was going to hit that end of pit lane, and I thought, I'll just hit it. I got axle hop and somehow when I opened my eyes I was down in the corner. I turned right and off I went. I don't know how I got through there. It was really close.
Q. Do you like the restarts? Do you like the double file restarts the way they are right now, three weeks in?
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, I do. I think they're great. It really shakes it up. For two laps, three laps, it takes us a while to really clear ourselves out and get back in our groove. Maybe with 20 or 10 to go, just cut us a break and make it single file. Take some pressure off.
THE MODERATOR: Marcos, thanks, and congratulations.
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