BUSCH: Marcos Ambrose awards banquet notes

AMBROSE JETS HOME TO AUSTRALIA FOR CHRISTMAS AFTER CAPPING ROOKIE SEASON WITH AWARDS BANQUET Marcos Ambrose is on a jet en route back home to Australia today after capping his rookie year in the NASCAR Busch Series by collecting his eighth...

AMBROSE JETS HOME TO AUSTRALIA FOR CHRISTMAS AFTER CAPPING ROOKIE SEASON WITH AWARDS BANQUET

Marcos Ambrose is on a jet en route back home to Australia today after capping his rookie year in the NASCAR Busch Series by collecting his eighth place trophy in an on-stage appearance at the annual NASCAR Busch Series Awards Banquet in Orlando, Florida.

Ambrose joined the other nine drivers who finished the season in the top 10 in the driver's standings of NASCAR's second-tier series in conducting activities in the Florida region ahead of the banquet last Friday night.

Shortly after the ceremony Ambrose, his wife Sonja and young daughters Tabitha and Adelaide boarded a plane for the long trip home for Christmas to the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Media interviews were conducted at the ESPN Club at Disney's Boardwalk on Orlando over lunch on Thursday December 6, before the top 10 drivers in this year's standings all attended Walt Disney World Speedway to give media and selected guests 'hot lap' rides in cars supplied by the Richard Petty Driving Experience, run by Australian Barry Graham.

The next evening saw drivers and teams assemble for the NASCAR Busch Series Awards Banquet at the Tuscan Ballroom in the Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

Ambrose collected his eighth place trophy at the banquet, earning a coveted on-stage appearance at the black tie event by virtue of his top 10 finish in the overall driver's standings in his rookie season in NASCAR's second-tier series.

The awards night will be telecast on ESPN2 on Tuesday 11 December 2007 at 7:00pm US Eastern Time. The event was hosted by EPSN's Allen Bestwick and Shannon Spake with entertainment from John Ondrasik, lead singer of the group Five for Fighting, and comedian John Pinette.

Ambrose will return home to Australia for a quick visit home to see family and friends before returning to the United States to prepare for next season.

The first event on Ambrose's 2008 schedule will be the opening round of the newly-named NASCAR Nationwide Series on February 16 at Daytona International Speedway, where the Australian will again drive the #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion.

Ambrose will also compete in 12 top-level NASCAR Sprint Cup events in 2008 in the Little Debbie Ford Fusion.

The first official off-season test for NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will be held at Daytona International Speedway on 7 January 2008 while the first official test for the NASCAR Nationwide Series will also be staged at the 2.5-mile Daytona superspeedway on 18 January 2008.

WHAT HE HAD TO SAY --

Marcos Ambrose - #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion

"This year I learned that it's a lot tougher than it looks," said Ambrose.

"It's a tough sport, it really is. It takes its toll on you personally and physically over the course of the year and I just think that I have learned to pace myself better at the end of the season than at the start.

"I feel like I got to June and July and thought 'wow, when is this year going to finish?' so you've got to pace yourself and get your head around the game and realise that it is going to be 35 good races and not 25 that's going to get you in the top 10 in points.

"Next year we are going to do it even better, I think and I can't wait.

"This racing is big, it's fast and very competitive. The style of racing is very unique and at the start of 2006 this was something new to me.

"I hadn't really experienced the ovals until I came over the NASCAR to drive these stock cars and I don't think I will ever go back to road course racing full-time because it's just so much fun and so dynamic and exciting."

-credit: team australia

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Series NASCAR-NS