Talladega: Ambrose - Ford interview

It was announced yesterday that Wood Brothers/JTG Racing would promote driver Marcos Ambrose to the Busch Series in 2007. Ambrose, who currently drives the No. 20 Ford F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series, is the first native of Australia to...

It was announced yesterday that Wood Brothers/JTG Racing would promote driver Marcos Ambrose to the Busch Series in 2007. Ambrose, who currently drives the No. 20 Ford F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series, is the first native of Australia to compete full time in one of NASCAR's major touring series and has amassed one pole and two top-three finishes in 16 races. Ambrose, who sat out the first three races of this season before being approved by NASCAR for competition, spoke about his first impressions of driving on a superspeedway and his rookie experience year in NASCAR.

MARCOS AMBROSE-20-Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150

THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME ON A SUPERSPEEDWAY OF THIS SIZE. IS IT DAUNTING THE FIRST COUPLE OF LAPS? "Yeah it is. Just the place itself, it's got such history and the steps that are behind it, it's daunting driving in here just looking at the race track, let alone racing on there. We've had a little taste of it there in the practice running in the draft. It's a beautiful surface, probably the smoothest race track that I've driven on. It's a big change from the old Talladega, to be honest with you. Who knows what's going to happen for the race? I've dreamt of NASCAR and this weekend it's like, 'I'm here.' Here I am at Talladega Superspeedway, and I have a license that lets me run here finally and it's a pretty cool deal."

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE DRAFT AT 200 MPH? "Well, if you've ever driven in Chinese traffic around Shanghai, it's probably pretty close to it, except you're going an extra couple hundred mph. It's frantic. It's just experience, and it's really an art form as much as anything - knowing where to place your truck, knowing where the draft is going to be the best, knowing where you're going to scrub off the least amount of speed and choosing who you are going to run with. And that's why the veterans are so good at it because they have had a lot of experience at that. You've really got to learn it, and it's not something you can look at on the tapes and go out there and try to do it. I think you need really need to experience it firsthand, and this weekend for us is about survival."

SINCE THIS WILL BE YOUR FIRST TIME ON A TRACK WHERE DRAFTING WILL PLAY SUCH A BIG ROLE, HAVE YOU FOUND ANY DRAFTING PARTNERS? "There are a few guys that I've spoken to already that'd be happy for me to assume their bumper bar the whole race. Do we think we're going to out there and lead the pack? No way. We're just going to be a mule for somebody else to win the race. We're just hoping that it's going to someone that's driving a Ford - Rick Crawford Terry Cook, Mark Martin. If you can help those guys out, it would be pretty good. I'm going to be a bottom feeder, I'm sure of that. I'm going to try to stay with the main group and stay on the bottom and try to push the good guys up front somewhere. Hopefully by doing that I'll get a good result and appease NASCAR and stay out of the big one."

IT WAS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK THAT YOU'LL MAKE THE MOVE TO THE BUSCH SERIES NEXT YEAR. HAVE YOU EXCEEDED YOUR EXPECTATIONS BY JUMPING TO THE BUSCH SERIES AFTER JUST ONE YEAR IN THE TRUCK SERIES? "Way more than I've ever hoped for. I'm with a fantastic team that's just been a great support base for me to learn and to ask questions from. And, we're creeping up on it. It's a big responsibility to get elevated to the Busch Series. I know that I have plenty more to learn and I just hope that the team is patient with me. Once I feel like I've got my head around the Busch Series, I'm sure we're going to do great things together. It's going to be a big step up for me, there's no doubt, and I just really want to take my time and keep my fingers crossed to do it right."

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS MAKING THE TRANSITION TO NASCAR NEXT YEAR. DO YOU THINK WITH MOST OF THE INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS COMPETING IN THE BUSCH SERIES THAT IT MIGHT BE PERCEIVED AS AN INTERNATIONAL INVASION? "I hope not from my end of the deal because I've come in the truck series, and I feel like I've done it the right way in front of these great truck drivers. I feel like I've got some respect with the veterans and I've shown I can race clean and fair and hard. I'm not going to be one of these guys that comes in and thinks that they're going to win their first race. It shows the strength off NASCAR and where it is right now that so many drivers from all over the world want to race here. It's a worldwide series and it's the biggest motorsports in the world, and that's why I came here. The big thing is going to be Juan (Pablo Montoya) and how he does. If he goes really, really well, it's just going to open Pandora's box. If he struggles and does badly, it's probably going to stop people who are thinking about it right now about having a go. I think you're seeing maybe a golden era with the international crowd fooling with the idea of coming in. I've done it differently from almost every other international driver and started at a lower level to try to learn and get the respect of my peers. I hope that's going to work out well for me because I feel that the experience that I've got this year of running the race tracks and driving with some Cup drivers and truck series veterans, it's been a huge learning curve and I would hate to think I'd have to learn all of that and what I've got ahead of me with when I first get to Busch because I think you would suffer."

ARE THE BUSCH SERIES RACES TELEVISED IN AUSTRALIA? "They are and they show them live. None of the diehard fans have been able to check out the action so far. Guys are on the computer for way too long or have to have friends in the U.S. that can send tapes back. It's going to be great because I left a great deal at home and I left a lot of fans, and it's going to be great if people are interested in waking up at 3:30 on Sunday morning to watch me run."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Marcos Ambrose , Mark Martin