Wednesday October 24, 2012
Kansas Speedway, 1.5-mile oval, Kansas City, Kansas
Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Black & Decker Ford
Starting Position: 18
Finishing Position: 12
Marcos Ambrose started the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at the Kansas Speedway from the 18th position. After running the first 20 laps he relayed to his crew that the Black & Decker Ford was loose on entry into the corners. Caught in traffic and struggling with a loose condition, Ambrose had fallen to 20th when the first caution flag of the day flew on Lap 32 for debris. Crew chief Mike Ford elected to bring his driver into the pits for four fresh tires, fuel and air pressure and wedge adjustments. Several cars elected to only take two tires and Ambrose restarted in 25th. Several laps into his second green-flag run of the day, Ambrose relayed to his crew that he liked the changes made on the previous stop.
With his car running more to his liking, Ambrose had worked his way up 21st by Lap 50. The next round of pit stops came under caution at Lap 73 and Ford called for more air pressure and wedge adjustments in an attempt to make the Black & Decker machine turn better in the center of the corners.
Restarting in 23rd, it didn't take long before the yellow flag flew again. Only having 10 laps on his tires, Ambrose elected not to come down pit road under caution. By virtue of staying out, Ambrose gained several positions and was scored in 18th when the field came to the green on Lap 86. Pleased with how the Black & Decker Ford was handling, Ambrose's lap times began to improve and he had driven his way up to 13th at Lap 100.
Just two laps before Ambrose was scheduled to come down pit road for a routine green-flag pit stop, the caution flag flew for the fifth time on Lap 123. Over half of the field had pitted just prior to the caution coming out, putting many of Ambrose's competitors a lap down. Able to pit under caution, the No. 9 came down pit road in the seventh position for four tires, fuel and an array of chassis adjustments.
Ambrose continued to run inside the top-10 until a lengthy pit stop on Lap157 caused him to drop back to the 20th position. Though he had lost some track position in the pits, the Australian native quickly made up ground, gaining five positions to be scored in 15th on Lap 167.
Just two laps later trouble struck for the No. 9 team as Joey Logano was forced to check-up when a car slowed in front of him. Running directly behind Logano, Ambrose had no place to go and was forced into the back bumper of the No. 20. The contact sent Ambrose's car up the track and into Trevor Bayne, before eventually hitting the outside wall with the back bumper.
Ambrose's car suffered heavy damage and he was forced to bring the Black & Decker car down pit road for front bumper and rear decklid repairs on Laps 169 and 171. Unable to finish the repairs before the rest of the field took the green flag for the restart, Ambrose went a lap down to the leaders.
Cautions seemed to breed cautions in the 400-mile race, and luckily the yellow flag flew again on Lap 183 allowing Ambrose to be credited with the Lucky Dog. After getting his lap back, Ambrose restarted in 25th the last car on the lead lap.
Though his car was heavily damaged, it was still fast and Ambrose quickly began gaining positions. By Lap 214 Ambrose had worked his way up to the 16th position. Once inside their fuel window, Ford called Ambrose into the pits one final time on Lap 218 for four tires, fuel and a trackbar and spring rubber adjustment. Several cars again elected to only take two tires and Ambrose restarted 20th.
Determined to make the best out of his day, Ambrose went on a mission to make his way back toward the front of the field and methodically began to pick up positions one lap at a time. When the 14th and final caution flag of the day flew on Lap 237 Ambrose was running in 14th and relayed to his crew that he was happy with how his car was handling.
With only 28 laps remaining after the restart, Ambrose tried his best to gain as many positions as possible in the final laps and when the checkered flag flew the Black & Decker No. 9 crossed the stripe in 12th-place.
Ambrose maintained his position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and sits in 17thheading into Martinsville this weekend.
Ambrose's Comments after Kansas:
"Wow, what a crazy race. I can't believe we got out of here with a 12th-place finish. This race was pure chaos and we got caught up in some of the action ourselves. I'm not even really sure what happened. All I know is Joey (Logano) slowed in front of me and I didn't have anywhere to go, but into the back of him. Unfortunately, I got into Trevor (Bayne) in the process. We had quite a bit of damage to our Black & Decker Ford, but my pit crew did an awesome job of getting me fixed quickly on pit road and we didn't have to take our car to the garage. We just never gave up. We had a fast car from the start and knew we were capable of a good finish. I'm just really proud of all my guys for all of their hard work. All things considered I'm definitely happy with our 12th-place finish."
Aric Almirola, No. 43 Farmland Ford
Starting Position: 5
Finishing Position: 29
Sunday looked to be Aric Almirola's day. He had a fast Farmland Ford all week at Kansas Speedway. He qualified fifth, putting him in the third row to start the Hollywood Casino 400. He had a dominant car that led the field for 69 laps, and all signs pointed to the possibility of him earning his first trip to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. But he would soon learn the 1.5-mile track had other plans for him, and the caution-filled race would make him one of its victims.
When the green flag flew to start the 267-lap event, the No. 43 Ford Fusion took off, headed for the front. He passed the four cars ahead of him to take the lead by Lap 6 and then left the rest of the field far behind. For the next 24 laps, he enjoyed a sizable lead - as big as half a straight-away - and soon caught up to the rear of the field to begin lapping cars.
Almirola told crew chief Todd Parrott that his Farmland Ford was a little loose through the turns, but that it was gradually tightening up over the run. The caution flag flew for the first of a season-high 14 times on Lap 31, and Parrott brought his driver to pit road for right-side tires and fuel. He restarted in the lead and once again put a huge distance between himself and the rest of the 43-car field by Lap 70, when the third caution of the afternoon came out.
Parrott once again made the call to bring the car to the pits for two right-side tires and two cans of fuel. Jimmie Johnson, who only took one can of fuel, beat Almirola off pit road and assumed the lead for the ensuing restart. Johnson led for the next 40 laps until he had to pit for fuel, peeling off and returning the lead to Almirola on Lap 118.
With the blue Richard Petty Motorsports Ford back out front in clean air, it once again looked like Almirola's car could dominate the field. But as Parrott and Almirola began to discuss when their next pit stop would be, the right front tire blew on Lap 121, sending Almirola up against the wall.
The hit caused significant damage to the right side of the car, forcing the team to pit multiple times during the ensuing caution to make repairs. But the pit crew's quick work kept Almirola on the lead lap and he restarted in 27th when the race once again went green. The team continued to work on the car during multiple caution periods over the next 45 laps, making enough improvements and using pit strategy to return Almirola to the top five by Lap 162 and to the second position by Lap 168.
But on Lap 172 while racing for the lead, the No. 43 Fusion spun, fortunately not making any contact to incur further damage. Almirola brought his car to pit road for new tires while the rest of the field stayed green. He lost a lap to the leader while making the pit stop, but the caution flag flew for the ninth time as he returned to the track, giving him the "Lucky Dog" pass to return to the lead lap in 27th position.
The Farmland Ford was still running fast lap times and looked like it could return to the front of the pack once again. Almirola had climbed all the way back up to 13th by Lap 208 and was discussing possible chassis adjustments with Parrott for his next pit stop when the right front tire blew again. The force sent the car into the wall hard, and flames erupted out of the engine. Fortunately, the fire extinguished on its own as Almirola came to a stop on the track, and he was able to climb from the car. The safety crew took him to the infield care center, where he was evaluated and released.
It was a disappoting end to what was the team's best performance all season. Almirola led the race for 69 laps, a career best for Almirola in the Sprint Cup Series. He was credited with a 29th-place finish and heads to next week's race at Martinsville still 21st in the driver point standings.
Comments from Almirola after Kansas:
"We blew another right front. It was a big hit and I lost my breath there for a minute so I had to collect my thoughts. I am disappointed. I have never in my entire life had a race car that good. It was so fast and so easy to drive. All the guys on this Farmland Ford Fusion did a great job and we just had a really great race car. We were here in Farmland's headquarters and we were trying really hard to double their money to Harvesters Food Bank if we won. But, we were unable to do that, though not from lack of effort. All the guys worked really hard all weekend and we had a spectacular car. I hate that it ends like this, but I have always been told you have to give a few away before you can win one. I feel like we certainly gave one away today."
About Richard Petty Motorsports:
A performance and marketing driven company, Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and successful business entrepreneurs Andrew Murstein and Douglas Bergeron, is one of the most recognized brands in all of motorsports. With a history of over 200 wins and business partnerships with national and global leaders, today the race operation fields two teams in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Aric Almirola pilots the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion with primary partners Smithfield Foods, U.S. Air Force and STP and Marcos Ambrose drives the No. 9 machine with primary partners Stanley and DEWALT. In addition, Michael Annett wheels the No. 43 Pilot Flying J Ford Mustang full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The team is headquartered in Concord, N.C.
This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Beth Lunkenheimer.
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