Watkins Glen: Marcos Ambrose preview

AMBROSE AND STP AIM TO DEFEND WATKINS GLEN NATIONWIDE WIN - Ambrose and STP aim to defend Watkins Glen Nationwide win - Ambrose hoping luck is on his side for fourth Sprint Cup road course race - Dover tyre test and Black Rock dirt track...

AMBROSE AND STP AIM TO DEFEND WATKINS GLEN NATIONWIDE WIN

- Ambrose and STP aim to defend Watkins Glen Nationwide win

- Ambrose hoping luck is on his side for fourth Sprint Cup road course race

- Dover tyre test and Black Rock dirt track also on this week's schedule

- First double duty weekend this season for Ambrose at The Glen

AMBROSE AND STP AIM TO DEFEND NATIONWIDE WIN AT WATKINS GLEN

Marcos Ambrose will once again run in the iconic colours of STP when he defends his Zippo 200 crown at Watkins Glen International this weekend.

Ambrose will make his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start of the season this weekend aboard the #47 STP entry of JTG Daugherty Racing, looking to repeat the effort that saw him earn his first NASCAR victory in the same race last season.

Ambrose made three Nationwide Series starts last season, with first place at Watkins Glen, second in Mexico City and third at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada.

In terms of Loop Data statistics, Ambrose was the best performed road course driver in last year's Nationwide Series, with a Driver Rating of 124.2, 32 Laps Led, 23 Fastest Laps Run and an Average Running Position of 7.7.

AMBROSE HOPING LUCK IS ON HIS SIDE FOR FOURTH SPRINT CUP ROAD COURSE RACE

Marcos Ambrose will also be looking to climb up the Sprint Cup Series points standings and claim his first top-level NASCAR win in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen this weekend.

In his three previous Sprint Cup starts on a road course, Ambrose has had all sorts of obstacles stand in the way of his first victory at top-flight Sprint Cup level.

In his Sprint Cup debut at Sonoma in 2008, Ambrose qualified seventh and ran as high as second before a gearbox failure ended his race.

At Watkins Glen last year, Ambrose started the Sprint Cup race from the rear of the field after rain cancelled qualifying and the field was set by Owner's Points, leaving Ambrose to start from 43rd position aboard the famous #21 Ford of the Wood Brothers.

Ambrose charged from the rear of the pack to finish in third place, his highest Sprint Cup finish last season from 11 starts.

The Australian amazingly repeated that feat at Sonoma in California in June this year, qualifying third only to be forced to start from the rear due to an engine change in practice.

Yet again, Ambrose started from the back of the pack only to charge through the field and match his best Sprint Cup finish with third place.

So far this season Ambrose has scored five top 10 finishes, unlucky not to score his sixth top 10 for the season on Monday in Pocono when he was running ninth and on a charge with 25 laps remaining, only to be taken out in a wreck triggered by eventual race winner Denny Hamlin.

In his first full season in Sprint Cup competition, Ambrose currently lies 18th in the series points standings after 21 races, the highest placed first year driver.

DOVER TYRE TEST AND BLACK ROCK DIRT TRACK ALSO ON THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE

Ambrose went straight from Pocono to Dover, Delaware on Monday night for a two-day Goodyear tyre test at the one-mile Dover International Raceway on Tuesday and Wednesday.

After a brief visit home in Charlotte on Thursday, Ambrose will jet to Watkins Glen, New York and on Friday night, Ambrose will travel to Black Rock Speedway in Dundee, New York, getting some dirt track experience under his belt before the rescheduled Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway.

Ambrose will be leaning on crew chief Frank Kerr for some tips, with Kerr a legendary Sprint Car racer in his own right before he turned his hand to crew chief duties in NASCAR.

FIRST DOUBLE DUTY WEEKEND THIS SEASON FOR AMBROSE AT THE GLEN

Marcos Ambrose was no stranger to double duty in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series last season, but this weekend will be the first time he has performed the task this season.

The extra track time will not phase the Australian, who at the same event last year won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen on the Saturday and followed it up with a third-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race the following day after starting from the rear of the field.

A host of drivers will be seeing double-duty this weekend, with 15 drivers racing in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup race and Saturday's Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series event. NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Kyle Busch will be joined by Carl Edwards, Ambrose, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, David Ragan, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Robby Gordon, Paul Menard, Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney and Scott Speed.

Marcos will not be the only person at JTG Daugherty Racing pulling double duty at Watkins Glen -- his Sprint Cup crew chief Frank Kerr and his JTG Daugherty Racing pit crew will oversee his Nationwide Series car as well as his regular Sprint Cup ride.

WHAT MARCOS HAS TO SAY

"It was a big relief to be able to win my first NASCAR race at Watkins Glen last year because I had dragged my family halfway around the world," said Ambrose.

"Then the Cup race on Sunday felt like a win too, coming from the back to get third place.

"This year we have had some great runs on ovals, superspeedways and at a road course.

"This is only our first year and we are still getting our legs under us. We had no expectations and we are pleasantly surprised at our progress in such a short amount of time.

"We finished sixth at Pocono the first time there and we wanted to do better last week.

"We were running in the top-10 and moving forward until we were collected in an accident. We were running well and all of a sudden David (Reutimann) got turned and I had nowhere to go."

On this week's busy schedule:

"I've been gone from home since last Thursday," said Ambrose.

"I miss my family. It's tough to be away from home when you have two little ones. I'll have some time with them on Thursday before we fly out to Watkins Glen.

"Racing on the Cup level, you can lose a year of not doing things you like to do because you are so intense at the track and you are travelling around the circuit.

"When I get my chance, I force myself to get out there and do things. Like this past weekend in Pocono, I took a $20 raft and went fishing. I was pleased with the raft, but the rain turned the creek into rapids and the fish weren't biting. The water was high, but we made it down and back safely. I'm not sure what I will get into at Watkins Glen. I don't think I'll have much time."

On Friday night at Black Rock:

"I'll have to have some dirt experience before I run the fifth annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway," said Ambrose.

"So, that's what I'm trying to do. We'll have a lot of fun out at Black Rock."

-credit: ma/bam media

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Gilles Villeneuve , Marcos Ambrose , Scott Speed , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , Carl Edwards , David Ragan , Denny Hamlin , Dave Blaney , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing