AMBROSE COMES FROM LAST TO THIRD AT SONOMA Marcos Ambrose has equalled his best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish with a storming drive from the back of the field to finish third in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma,...
AMBROSE COMES FROM LAST TO THIRD AT SONOMA
Marcos Ambrose has equalled his best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish with a storming drive from the back of the field to finish third in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California today.
Ambrose battled late in the race with the likes of three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and eventual race winner Kasey Kahne after a storming drive saw him leap into contention after starting all the way back in 41st position.
The third-place finish, Ambrose's fourth top 10 finish this season, came in a dramatic race where a green-white-chequered 'overtime' finish gave the Australian one last chance at victory, but third was all the two-time V8 Supercar champion could muster after one of the comeback drives of the season.
Ambrose performed the same feat at Watkins Glen last season when starting from the rear and also finishing third, starting from the rear on that occasion as a result of a qualifying rain-out and the field being set on owner's points.
This time around Ambrose earned third place in qualifying behind Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch and was fastest in the first two practice sessions of the weekend, but an engine failure and subsequent change meant that Ambrose was forced to start today's race from the rear of the grid.
Ambrose survived several close shaves throughout the race, including some door-banging moments with both Johnson and Denny Hamlin (including a brush with the pit wall) and a clash with Bobby Labonte exiting pit lane.
Ambrose's efforts earned him the Mobil 1 Performance Driver of the Race Award as well as US$175,49 for his Little Debbie-backed #47 JTG Daugherty Racing entry.
The finish sees Ambrose jump two spots in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings into 18th position after the first 16 races of his first full season at Cup level. He races again next weekend in Loudon, New Hampshire.
WHAT MARCOS HAD TO SAY --
From Post-Race Press Conference with second place Tony Stewart and Third Place Marcos Ambrose:
QUESTION: Marcos Ambrose, tell us about your run.
MARCOS AMBROSE: "I thought I was at Eldora (Speedway) all day. It was just really slippery. Those rear tyres just didn't have a lot of forward grip. It's fast on the roll (ED: through the corner), but just getting the power to the ground is hard. We've got a lot of power in these Cup cars, and you've got your work cut out for you.
"I was hot, I was mad, I was happy, I was sad all together. "I'm just proud of my team, JTG Daugherty, having trusted me to drive their car, and took a chance putting me in. No one really knew what I was all about, and I just want to thank them. I have to thank Michael Waltrip Racing, too, for giving us great support, just an awesome combination right now, great group of guys.
"We had a bad day yesterday. We were in the hole pretty good. They just rallied around me and gave me the support I needed, the confidence to go out there today to just get aggressive and get to it and not skip a beat."
QUESTION. You had great training for this last year at Watkins Glen. When you look at this, you say the team, but everything that you guys went through in the last couple of days and then the wreck and happy hour, it just kept coming, but you would not be held back. Is this just your determination and resolve?
MARCOS AMBROSE: "I even cut myself shaving this morning. That's how bad this weekend has gone. We've just got a resilient attitude, never say die attitude, and when you're having a bad day. We made it worse yesterday in happy hour, whatever happened there, and just really proud of my guys for giving me the support that I needed and the car that I needed to do what we did today.
"You know, it's just a tough world, the Cup racing scene. There is no easy lap, there is no easy day. It's intense, especially those restarts, and just really just never give up. " "I knew what to expect, unfortunately, from Watkins Glen last year. That was a long day, and I think today was just as long if not longer. I think the car is sort of straight, sort of. Most of the damage is in the front and side. There's not too much in the back, which is a good sign."