In position to win the race Sunday afternoon, Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Mac Tools Ford team finished 13th after fighting the leaders on older tires in the closing laps. An exciting finish, Ambrose and the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports collected their fifth top-15 finish of the season.
Starting the one-day postponed 400-mile race for rain in the fifth spot, Ambrose raced in the top-10 before NASCAR called a competition caution on Lap 30. During that caution the team came down pit road to get only two tires and an air pressure adjustment to help work on grip. The team restarted in ninth and still raced in the top-10.
The first caution of the race led to a series of cautions and one red flag before Lap 50 of the event. A caution was called on Lap 39 for debris, Lap 44 for an accident on the restart and then the red flag came out for a seven- car accident on Lap 49. Ambrose was either ahead of or raced around each accident. The team did not need to pit during those cautions and restarted in fifth.
By Lap 60 of the 267-lap race, Ambrose was running eighth and the team came down pit road on Lap 83 for four tires and another air pressure adjustments. The caution then waved on Lap 89 and the Mac Tools team took the wave around to stay on the lead lap. They restarted 22nd and now had to move up through the field.
On Lap 100, Ambrose was 18th. The caution came out on Lap 108 and Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called Ambrose in to get four new tires. Ambrose restarted 23rd and moved to 20th on Lap 133. He said the car was loose and wanted to get his left front of the car down into the track. A caution on Lap 149 allowed the team to make those changes and Ambrose moved up to 15th on Lap 190.
A fast car, Ambrose raced inside the top-20 as the race came into the closing stages. It was evident that track position was critical, as was clean air. Blickensderfer was using strategy to get Ambrose in position at the end of the race.
The plan came together on Lap 243 when the caution waved. This allowed Ambrose to come down pit road to just get a splash of gas in the red and white No. 9 Ford. Ambrose restarted 10th with less than 20 laps left. On the restart Jimmie Johnson spun in front of the field. Ambrose went around the spinning car and this time restarted sixth. On the restart, Ambrose moved to third with 17 laps left.
With other cars on new tires, Ambrose raced to a 13th-place position at the end and stays 22nd in points.
“We were in position at the end of the race, but some of those other guys had new tires and just got us. This finish is a lot better result than what we’ve had at the mile-and-a-half tracks in a little while. It’s not a win, a top-five or top-10, but we were close for any of those results. We were in position today and we’ll keep working to get good results.”
Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley crew will return to Daytona International Speedway next Saturday. The race will be televised live by TNT and broadcast live on SIRIUS/XM NASCAR and the Motor Racing Network.
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Jamie McMurray
3. Clint Bowyer
4. Joey Logano
5. Kyle Busch
13. Marcos Ambrose