Marcos Ambrose started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway with his new Stanley team from the 17th position. At the drop of the green flag, Ambrose quickly gained three positions and was running in 14th on Lap 5. Just a few laps later Ambrose keyed the mic to let his Stanley crew know that his car was tight in the center of the turns. As the initial green flag run went on, the No.9 machine also began to lose grip on entry and exit of the corner. On Lap 44 crew chief Mike Ford called his driver into the pits under green for a routine stop. The team added four fresh tires, fuel and made an air pressure adjustment in an attempt to help the car turn better in the center of the corners.
After the rest of the field had cycled through green-flag stops, Ambrose was again scored in the 14th position at Lap 53. The Australian native maintained his position inside the top-15 until the first caution flag of the day flew at Lap 67. Prior to coming into the pits Ambrose relayed to his team that the car was loose on entry and still needed better turn though the center of the corners. Ford called for four tires, fuel and a wedge and air pressure adjustment.
Just 10 laps after making his second pit stop of the day, Ambrose reported something was amiss with the motor and he was down on power. Not wanting to lose a lap by coming into the pits early, Ambrose decided to stay on track until his next scheduled stop or until the next caution flag flew. Running under power, Ambrose had slipped back to the 22nd position by Lap 91. Finally the caution flag flew at Lap 102 and Ambrose came into the pits so the team could check the plug wires, make an array of chassis adjustments and add four tires and fuel.
Unable to find any issues with the plug wires, Ambrose restarted in 27th at the tail end of the lead lap. Shortly after the restart, Ambrose still insisted something was not quite right and reported the problem seemed to be in the electrical system. Struggling to keep pace with the rest of the field, Ambrose fell a lap down to the leader at Lap 148.
The next yellow flag flew at Lap 150 and Ambrose again made multiple pit stops under caution, this time to check for electrical issues. Restarting in 29th, there was still no change in the Stanley car’s performance, but Ambrose and team were determined to find the problem.
Lap 190 provided the crew with another chance to attempt to remedy the problem and they went to work changing all eight plug wires under caution. The lengthy stop caused Ambrose to fall another lap behind the leader and he again restarted in 29th. After leaving the pits Ambrose immediately reported the problem had still not been resolved. With any other possible repairs requiring attention back in the garage, Ambrose had no choice but to stay on track and continue logging laps.
As the laps wound down, Ambrose was still running under power, but by virtue of staying on track and not having to go to the garage for repairs, he gained two positions to finish the race in the 27th position.
Unofficially, Ambrose sits in 17th position in the driver points standings heading to New Hampshire International Speedway next weekend.
Ambrose’s Thoughts after Racing at Chicago: ” We were hoping for better results today. It was my first weekend with my new team and this is not how we wanted to end up. We had mechanical issues that plagued us all day and we just could not seem to fix the problem. I thought we were going to have to take the Stanley Ford to the garage, but my crew did a good job of making all the changes on pit road. We managed to come home with a 27th- place finish at the end of the day and that just goes to show how much drive and dedication this No.9 team has. Even though we had a tough day, we need to keep our heads up and go into Loudon next weekend with positive energy.”