JTG Daugherty Racing: 2008, A Year In Review

Daniel LamCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2008

2008 has been what could be a breakthrough or emergence year for JTG Racing. Owned by husband and wife duo Tad and Jodi Geschickter, not only did JTG Racing welcome a new partner in ESPN analyst Brad Daugherty but entered into a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing.

Now JTG Daugherty Racing, the team started the season on what could be considered shaky grounds, after the teams alliance with the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team feel through.

This left two nationwide teams and a truck series team to stand tall by itself. But not only did JTG Daugherty racing cope with this new adventure, they built upon there own experience, to finally celebrate their elusive win at Watkins Glen with Nationwide regular Marcos Ambrose.

The two nationwide teams piloted by Australian Marcos Ambrose in the No. 59 Kingsford and Wisconsin native Kelly Bires in the No. 47 Clorox would end up finishing the year in tenth and thirteenth place respectively. 

In July then a Ford team, JTG Daugherty Racing decided to go cup racing in '09, it was unclear how the team would get there, but intentions were for Marcos Ambrose be in the No. 47 with long time partners Little Debbies and Kingsford as sponsors.

Initial rumors were the team would be running chevrolet's, however these rumors were proven wrong later in the season.

Ambrose backed his claim to be in the top tier by finishing a solid 22nd in a 43 car strong field.

This proved to be a turning point in what was so far a lean year for Ambrose, after compatriot Walter Giles left as crew chief after a handful of races, Gary Cogswell stepped in and steadied ship for the ever strengthening team.

Kelly Bires on the other hand showed great speed in the early stages of 2008, in contrast to Ambrose, Bires had a great start but started to fall off the pace as the season went on. Bires eventually finished 13th in standings with six top 10s and one top five with a best position of fifth at Nashville early in the season.

Though Bires was an integral part of the teams success in 2008, much of the attention however was on Marcos Ambrose, the two time Australian V8 supercar champion  in his second year of the nationwide series showed his skill on road courses this season with his best three results of first, second, and third at the seasons three road courses.

Of those results Ambrose could had possibly won all three of the events after issues starting at the back at Mexico to finish second, a penalty whilst leading at Canada were both instances Ambrose had chances of winning.

The elusive win however came at the seasons third and final road course, Watkins Glen. Ambrose drove smartly conserving fuel to get to the checkered flag first whilst others cracked under pressure.

A new chapter was set in the short history of JTG Daugherty Racing written when it was announced that the team would form a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing for the 2009 season. In hand the team would run cars and engines from Michael Waltrip Racing. 

Along with consistent results in the Nationwide Series, Ambrose had the chance to have 12 races in the cup series, eight with the Wood Brothers and four with JTG Daugherty Racing. He qualified in 11 of the 12, failing to qualify at Loudon for Wood Brothers Racing.

Of the 11 qualified, Ambrose was in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota for the final four to acclimatize himself to his 2009 equipment after the technical alliance announcements, hence drives at Texas and Phoenix scheduled to be with Wood Brothers were in the MWR Toyota instead.

Though 2008 was a big year for the ever growing team, they weren't immune to the current financial crisis sweeping the world and the world of motorsport as well. According to "Jayski Silly Season Site" 12 employees had to be laid off. Furthermore sponsorship for the existing two nationwide teams may need to be found to enable Kelly Bires in the No. 47 and rumored Coleman Pressley, son of former driver now head of driver development program Robert Pressley in the No. 59.

Pressley would most likely run at the Nationwide stand alone events whilst Ambrose would run at the events featuring cup races. To add on, Scott Zipadelli, crew chief of Kelly Bires has left to Braun, leaving another gap to be filled, possibly by Greg Conner.

If 2008 was a big year for JTG Daugherty racing, 2009 will even have bigger and better things for the Brad Daugherty husband wife owned team.