AMBROSE BATTLES HARD AT MEMPHIS Team Australia driver Marcos Ambrose continued his learning experience in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the O'Reilly 200 at Memphis, Tennessee today. The two-time Australian V8 Supercar Champion started...
AMBROSE BATTLES HARD AT MEMPHIS
Team Australia driver Marcos Ambrose continued his learning experience in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the O'Reilly 200 at Memphis, Tennessee today.
The two-time Australian V8 Supercar Champion started today's 200-lap race around the 0.75 mile oval from the outside of the seventh row aboard his Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150.
During the first 30 laps Ambrose battled with experienced NASCAR driver Johnny Benson and series points leader Todd Bodine while running just inside the top 20.
The Australian was forced high on the lap 74 restart following the third caution period of the race which dropped him down the order by four positions as he attempted to get back in line.
Six laps later Ambrose was in the wars again when Benson endured a left rear puncture and spun in turn two. Ambrose was unable to avoid contact and the pair made nose to nose contact and he suffered minor damage to the right front of his Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150. The damage forced Ambrose to make an unscheduled pit stop for repairs during the caution period and as a consequence dropped to 30th position.
During this unscheduled pit stop the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150 was fitted with an old set of tyres with the hope of another caution period appearing in the coming laps, saving a new set for later in the race.
Unfortunately for Ambrose the race went over 100 laps without another caution period and he was forced to battle an ill handling truck due to the front end damage fitted with tyres that were unable to provide anything near optimum grip. He was then forced to pit under green flag conditions which dropped him a further two laps down on the race leader.
Following nine lead changes during the race among six drivers three-time series champion Jack Sprague passed Erik Darnell with eight laps to go to claim the victory. Matt Crafton finished third. Ambrose crossed the line 34th.
After nine races in nine weekends the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series now takes a two week break before firing up at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis on August 4.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--
MARCOS AMBROSE - #20 TEAM AUSTRALIA/AUSSIE VINEYARDS FORD F-150
"Once again qualifying was reasonably strong on a short track and I started the race in the top half of the field but it was a tough day behind the wheel other than that," said Ambrose.
"I was settling into a good race pace during the early running before (Johnny) Benson spun in front of me and I was left nowhere to go. It was a weird spin as he didn't slide up or down the racetrack and I clipped him, it was enough to damage the front end.
"We fitted a set of old tyres in the hope of another caution period, as there had already been four in the first 60 laps, but it wasn't to be. I ended up doing over 100 laps on a set of tyres in a truck that was pushed up at the front and not handling too well.
"I was then forced to pit under green which cost us another couple of laps on such a short track.
"The good news to come out of the day was the fact that we know we were fairly competitive on a short track and we didn't tear up. We had some good momentum coming into this weekend, now we have to put this one to the back of our minds and focus on a good result at the next round in Indianapolis."
CRAIG GORE -- TEAM AUSTRALIA
"Obviously it was a pretty tough day at the office for Marcos. It was great to see him qualify in the top half of the field again on one of these shorter ovals which he's obviously taking a little bit more time to get used to, more than the higher speed tracks," said Gore.
"He's had some impressive results lately. Marcos will probably enjoy having a couple of weeks off before heading to the next round in Indianapolis, where he'll have a bit of local support from the Indianapolis based Team Australia guys."