Las Vegas: Marcos Ambrose Thursday notes

AMBROSE TOP FIVE IN BOTH OPENING PRACTICE SESSIONS AT NEW LAS VEGAS Team Australia star Marcos Ambrose has finished in the top five in both of today's extended practice sessions at the revamped Las Vegas Motor Speedway in preparation ...

AMBROSE TOP FIVE IN BOTH OPENING PRACTICE SESSIONS AT NEW LAS VEGAS

Team Australia star Marcos Ambrose has finished in the top five in both of today's extended practice sessions at the revamped Las Vegas Motor Speedway in preparation for tomorrow's Smith's Las Vegas 350 in Nevada.

The Australian quickly developed a liking to the new layout, sitting around the top of the timesheets all day in the #20 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150. Ambrose finished the first session in fifth position and the second in fourth.

Ambrose was extremely happy with the feel and set-up of his Team Australia F-150 in today's running, a positive sign heading into tomorrow's race.

The increased banking on the Las Vegas track has greatly increased speeds at the speedway, playing into the hands of Ambrose, who has proved to be a force on the faster 1.5-mile speedways.

The Raybestos Rookie of the Year challenger won the Budweiser Pole Award and WIX Air Filter Lap Leader awards on the 1.5 mile Kentucky Speedway and scored third place finishes at the 1.5 mile Kansas Speedway and 1.33 mile Nashville Superspeedway.

Ambrose and the Aussie Vineyards will have two further practice sessions tomorrow before qualifying and the 146-lap Smith's Las Vegas 350, the 19th event in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --

Marcos Ambrose -- Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150

"This weekend is good for us because no one else has seen this place either with the new configuration," said Ambrose.

"I've got to tell you, the truck is just fantastic, the best truck that I've ever had. We've had an eight-hour test today and we don't know what to do with ourselves. We were happy after the first 10 minutes.

"We're really disappointed with our form in the short-track stuff. I don't know what I'm doing wrong there, but clearly I'm not driving well enough on the short tracks, and I've got to get my head around that. I feel semi-comfortable on these bigger speedways and it's kind of what I'm used to when the field spreads out a little but.

"We're excited. We're pumped up to be in Vegas and we're going to invest our money wisely here over the weekend. We're excited and we've got a truck we know really well, and it's a race truck that I think suits me. It's the first time this year that we've gone to a track that no one has an advantage on us."

"I'm really complimentary toward the new track because we're running good. It's got a few ripples in it, but that's what gives a track character; you can't complain with that. I like the banking on it. I think the banking is really smooth and it has nice entry and exits to the corners, so I've got no complaints with it. The track is in great condition."

"The tough thing is that we're running so fast here, three and four is pretty much wide open, and one and two is just a fraction of a lift. It's pretty hard to set up passing because everyone is going the same speed. This tyre is so hard that the tyres aren't going to wear out, so you can't wait to pounce on them when the tires go away because everyone's tyres are hanging in for 60 to 70 laps. It's going to be tough to race on because of those factors, but it's fast. We're running 31-flats around here and that's pretty fast for a one-and-a-half-mile oval."

"I have been to Las Vegas once before. There's only one Vegas, baby."

Craig Gore -- Team Australia

"Another terrific start for Marcos and the Aussie Vineyards team," said Gore.

"If there is one thing we know about Marcos, it's that he loves to drive and having so much track time today for practice gave him the opportunity for some extra seat time. I'm certain he would have benefited from the extended time today and soaked up all the information like a sponge.

"I am sure that he will only benefit from today when in comes to the race tomorrow, which is on a fast sort of track that suits his style."

-credit: team australia

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Series NASCAR-TRUCK