AMBROSE HAS BEST FINISH TO DATE Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose earned the best result of his short NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in round seven at the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in Ohio today. Ambrose finished 23rd and on the lead...
AMBROSE HAS BEST FINISH TO DATE
Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose earned the best result of his short NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in round seven at the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in Ohio today.
Ambrose finished 23rd and on the lead lap in a race that was littered with a record 18 caution periods on the challenging 0.5-mile (800m) short track.
Ambrose was to start from 28th position in his #20 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150 after yesterday's qualifying was washed-out, but he decided to start from the back of the 36-truck pack and try and avoid any early race carnage -- and it was a decision that paid off.
On lap six Johnny Benson got a left flat rear tire and backed up through the field and Kraig Kinser could not avoid him and spun into the turn one wall, bringing out the first caution of the night.
The majority of the field used this opportunity to pit, including Ambrose in his Wood Brothers/JTG Racing-prepared Ford.
The second caution come out 19 laps later when Ambrose's team mate Bobby East was turned around on the backstretch and the yellow flags continued from there.
"That was the best day we have had to date and has really given us a chance to re-load," said Ambrose.
"We had a goal of finishing the race on the lead lap today and we got that done.
"Starting at the back was part of that strategy and I think that certainly helped.
"Once we got in a groove we were passing trucks and learning a lot every lap.
"We were very conservative with our approach because the one thing I have been lacking is race miles.
"We were as fast as the lead trucks when we had clean air, but today was not about winning. That will come.
"We needed to ensure we stayed in the top 30 on the owners' points table and bank some knowledge."
Ambrose's major incident of the race came mid-way when he was turned around by Robert Turner in the 07 truck.
He backed it into the wall and pushed up the rear wing which totally changed the characteristics of the truck. He managed to get back to pit lane where his Team Australia crew did a great job straightening what they could to give him a chance of getting back on the lead lap.
Ambrose admitted that today's race was probably the toughest of his career.
"It was by far the toughest for so many reasons," said Ambrose.
"There is not one truck out there that has not got panel damage and you expect that with short track racing. I got turned around, but that's OK, I need to pay my dues here a little bit.
"My air box and drink bottle failed on about lap 30 which made it a hot day. It was insane. It was like trying to do aerobics in a porta-loo -- or porta-potty -- portable plastic toilet - you know what I mean.
"While it was tough, I really enjoyed myself and cannot wait until we are back out there next weekend in Dover."
At the end of the day there were 34 of the 36 starters still running, despite all the caution periods, but only 26 of those were on the lead lap.
Ron Hornaday Jr won the race for Chevrolet ahead of Toyota drivers Jack Sprague, David Starr, Johnny Benson and Joey Miller.
Rick Crawford was the first Ford driver in 12th position.
Team Australia creator Craig Gore was delighted with Ambrose's performance -- his second in Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards colours.
"Marcos' attitude towards this whole campaign is quite amazing and enormously disciplined," said Gore.
"Here is a guy who was a champion in one of the toughest touring car championships in the world who is electing to start at the back of the grid in an effort to learn everything he can about racing a truck.
"For many, their egos would never allow them to do something like that. The result today was his best finish and provided 250 laps of coverage for his Team Australia sponsors.
"With the attitude he has, I can now understand better why Marcos has had the success he has had in the past -- and why he will have plenty more in the future -- this time flying the Team Australia colours."
Ambrose moved up four places on the drivers' championship table to 36th and has now earned $US31,583 from his four race starts.
The next round of the championship will be at the Dover International Speedway -- a 1-mile (1.6km) concrete oval which has 24-degree banking in the turns and where the average qualifying speed for the pole last year was 157.577mph (252kph). They call this place the "Monster Mile".