For the second consecutive weekend, Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Racing Ford were one of the fastest teams on the track. But, for the second consecutive weekend, bad luck derailed a run that saw the black and yellow No. 9 in the top-10 all day. This week the bad luck came in the form of Ambrose spinning when the car, for an unknown reason, just turned around on him. He was then hit on his left-front fender and forced to spend time on pit road for repairs. The Drew Blickensderfer-led team made repairs and kept Ambrose on the lead lap, but the car didn’t handle as well and Ambrose held onto a 20th-place finish.
The day looked a lot better earlier for Ambrose after starting 15th for the 267-lap race. The team jumped up to 12th on the start before running 16th in the opening 50 laps. The team, like others, used a two-tire pit strategy to gain track position early in the race. The pit stops, combined with a fast car, put Ambrose seventh on the restart on Lap 78.
At this point, Ambrose really showed how strong the Stanley Ford team was. Surviving two quick cautions and three and four-wide restarts, Ambrose raced as high as fifth and never out of the top-11 from laps 80 to 150. The team then ran the fuel tank dry, and Ambrose dove down pit lane for his first four-tire pit stop of the day. The team also made a chassis adjustment to tighten his car up.
Ambrose came out of the pits and still raced in the top-10. He stayed in the position until Lap 175 when the caution came out. The team came down pit road for left-side tires only and came out looking to close the final laps in the top-five. On the restart, however, the back of the No. 9 slipped around, and Ambrose was then hit by another car in the left-front. The accident forced Ambrose to come down pit road with a flat tire and damage to repair.
The Stanley crew did just that and kept Ambrose on the lead lap. But, the car just wasn’t the same after and didn’t have the speed to stay in the top-10. Instead, Blickensderfer used a two-tire stop during a caution on Lap 219 to get Ambrose back to 12th. Stating that his car was a “five out of five” loose, Ambrose did everything he could to keep the car straight.
He finished the day in 20th-place and now moves to 19th in the championship standings. He is less than 50 points out of 10th-place and a Chase position with some of his best events still to come.
“I’m just disappointed today,” said Ambrose after the event. “We had such a good Stanley Ford, and were running around the top-10 all day, but when the sun came out, it changed. I didn’t expect it, and not sure, but it spun out off of Turn Two and we got some damage. We were able to stay on the lead lap, but that’s not the finish we wanted after running well.”
Richard Petty Motorsports and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 27. The race will be televised live on FOX at 7:30 p.m. ET.