SECOND STRAIGHT TOP TEN ON SENSATIONAL DAY FOR AMBROSE IN LAS VEGAS Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose has again shown his class by earning a second-consecutive top 10 finish in the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series in the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas ...
SECOND STRAIGHT TOP TEN ON SENSATIONAL DAY FOR AMBROSE IN LAS VEGAS
Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose has again shown his class by earning a second-consecutive top 10 finish in the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series in the Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada today.
Ambrose was 10th in the Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion, finishing as the top rookie and the second-highest non-Nextel Cup driver. The next best rookie was Juan Pablo Montoya in 20th position, four laps down.
The Australian maintains his fifth position in the NASCAR Busch Series points and his lead in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings.
Ambrose also maintained an incredible feat for a rookie, having completed every lap of each of the four races held so far this season, the only rookie to do so.
Ambrose earned US$35,875 (A$45,964) for finishing 10th in today's race, which carried a total prize pool of US$1,626,139 (A$2,068,090).
The Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal crew also earned an accolade today, winning the Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge Award for the best Busch Series pit crew. Ambrose also picked up his second Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award and the WIX Filters Lap Leader Award. Nextel Cup drivers in the Top 35 in Cup points are ineligible for Busch Series awards.
Ambrose was one of 12 drivers to lead a lap in today's race, making him the first Australian to lead a lap in NASCAR Busch Series competition and earning him five bonus points as a result of leading lap 159 during the pit stop sequence.
Ambrose made a strong start to the 200-lap event, moving from the 14th starting position to be 11th when the first of a record 12 caution periods was called on lap four at the revamped Las Vegas venue, which took it's toll today as driving struggled for grip.
As other drivers came to grief and ended their races in the wall Ambrose soldiered on and missed several accidents that unfolded in front of the Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion.
Ambrose encountered a problem with his second set of tyres, forcing the two-time Australian V8 Supercar Champion to battle an ill-handling car until his next pit stop.
Eventually Ambrose spun exiting the treacherous Turn 4, which claimed many victims over the course of the race. Amazingly, Ambrose was able to keep his spinning car off of the concrete wall and was able to continue.
Pitting for new tyres dropped Ambrose off of the lead lap and down into 26th position but perseverance and a much improved car on a new set of tyres allowed Ambrose to charge up to be 16th and the lead lapped car when the caution flag flew with 62 laps to go, giving Ambrose the 'lucky dog', allowing him to pass the pace car and rejoin the lead lap.
Ambrose took full advantage and continued to work his way back through the field. The Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion sat in 12th position when a heavy crash on the back straight brought out the red flag with 10 laps remaining.
Ambrose again showed his strength on restarts when the race resumed, the 30-year-old battling with Shane Huffman for ninth over the closing laps and eventually finishing a strong 10th.
It was Ambrose's second-straight top 10 finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, having finished seventh in his only other appearance at the venue in last year's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Jeff Burton won today's Sam's Town 300 before an estimated crowd of 110,000 people ahead of Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. 26 top flight Nextel Cup drivers competed in the 43-car field for today's event, with Huffman the top non-Cup driver in ninth and top rookie Ambrose next in 10th.
The fifth race in the NASCAR Busch Series will be held at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 18.
Marcos Ambrose -- Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion
"I'm really rapt with today," said Ambrose.
"It was a really long day out there and I couldn't have asked for a better finish.
"This is a big day for me.
"I said to the guys in the middle of the race when we had a set of tyres that were not quite right that we would have to wait it out until we could get another set on and then see what we could do.
"It was a really tough race. The tyres were hard and the track was greasy. If you could run well in any groove you just had to run with it.
"In the middle part of the race we had a set of tyres that weren't right. I was just hanging on trying to keep it straight and when it eventually did spin I somehow managed to keep it of the fence.
"I really have to thank Kingsford Charcoal and all of the team's sponsors for this day. For them to put a rookie in their car and to support an Australian driver is a massive thing and I appreciate everything they have done for me so much.
"My team, friends and family have made a lot of sacrifices for me to get to this stage and it's days like this one that make you appreciate everything and make it all worthwhile. It's not just me out there -- I have a lot of people to thank for this.
"We are finishing races out there and that's what we've always said that we wanted to do. When you are finishing races you can begin to look forward to the future and improving the package.
"We've got a pretty good package and some good momentum at the moment and we are going to be working very hard at keeping it going in the right direction.
"There were a lot of people from Kingsford Charcoal here today and I'm so happy to give them this good result. This team did an awesome job and they should all be proud of themselves."
"It was also great to have Craig Gore from Aussie Vineyards over here to watch this race from the pit stand. I'm happy that he got to see this result as well as he has been a great supporter of this team over the past two seasons."
Craig Gore -- Team Australia
"What an amazing day," said Gore.
"Not that we needed any further proof, but today we saw how much fighting Aussie spirit this guy really has.
"It was great for him to get his first Busch Series top 10 last weekend on a road course, but to follow that up with 10th against the best in the business on this tough Las Vegas oval shows how much he has adapted to this type of racing and how focused and professional he is."
-credit: team australia