Darlington: Marcos Ambrose preview

BUSY WEEK LEADING INTO DARLINGTON FOR AMBROSE Marcos Ambrose has been busy leading into the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina this weekend. Ambrose, fresh from 11th place in Richmond last weekend, ventured down to Daytona...

BUSY WEEK LEADING INTO DARLINGTON FOR AMBROSE

Marcos Ambrose has been busy leading into the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina this weekend.

Ambrose, fresh from 11th place in Richmond last weekend, ventured down to Daytona International Speedway in Florida to participate in a two-day tyre test for Goodyear on Monday and Tuesday.

Ambrose ran in both single-run and pack 'drafting' situations over the two days and was pleased to participate in the track time around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

The Australian finished fourth at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, but is keen to push for improvement on the banks of Daytona ahead of July's Pepsi 400.

POINTS BOOST LEADS TO CHASE TALK --

The recent form from Ambrose has led to some pundits to begin talking about the 32-year-old's chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The top 12 in the series after the Fall Richmond race are elevated into the Chase and at present Ambrose is only 120 points shy of 12th place.

Currently, the average finish for Ambrose in races where he hasn't failed to finish due to engine failure is an outstanding fourth place.

Ambrose, who is in his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, is also well ahead of Sprint Cup rookie contenders Joey Logano and Scott Speed on the points table.

SECOND WEEK FOR BUSH'S BEANS LIVERY --

Darlington represents the second event where Bush's Beans will be the major sponsor of the #47 JTG Daugherty Racing entry.

The blue and white Bush's livery, which turned heads under the lights at Richmond last weekend, could feature the traditional 'Darlington stripe' come Saturday's race.

The fastest line around the unique 1.336-mile speedway is traditionally right against the SAFER Barrier on the high line, leading many cars to scrape the right side fenders against the barrier.

PRESSLEY OFFERS TIPS FOR 'THE TRACK TOO TOUGH TO TAME' --

Former JTG Daugherty Racing Nationwide Series driver Robert Pressley has been something of a mentor to Ambrose since the two-time V8 Supercar Series champion arrived on the NASCAR scene in 2006.

Pressley has again been assisting Ambrose, offering him advice ahead of Darlington this weekend.

On the track referred to as 'Too Tough To Tame', Ambrose already has one top 10 result and another top 20 finish in the Nationwide Series.

WHAT MARCOS HAS TO SAY:

On the track --

"Robert Pressley (former JTG Daugherty Racing driver) really knows how to get around Darlington and he did a lot to help me learn the unique racing line and mind-set that it takes to get around the place," said Ambrose.

"I'm so excited to get to Darlington, but I'm not so sure how I'm going to finish the race. It's one of those weekends that you just like to go there, but you are not so sure how it is going to work out.

"It's a great track. I've had one race there on the old surface and one on the new. I've had a good taste of what it is all about. It's a very aggressive place to go. I can't wait to get there with the Bush's Beans car for their second ever Cup race."

On the race --

"No doubt, we are still outperforming our own expectations and that's a good thing," said Ambrose.

"I said to my crew before we ever started the year, let's just try our best to look good and show those glimpses of promise. Then from that, we will be able convert, hopefully, results and get the points thing under control. The focus was about that. We just wanted to run well when we are running.

"This week my crew and I were sitting down at Daytona for a Goodyear tyre test having lunch talking about how we are only 120 points out of 12th-place after 10 races.

"Actually, David Reutimann was asked to go to the test first, but I twisted his arm and stuffed him in a locker!

"I told him he couldn't go and that it was my turn. I think he's actually spending time with his family in North Carolina and I've chosen to come down here to get some more drafting practice for the July race. It's the second Goodyear test I've done. I did one at Lowe's Motor Speedway earlier this year.

"Every chance I get, I want to get in one of these cars to get experience. I felt I was weak in my drafting during the Daytona 500. I couldn't get in the middle of it all, so any chance I can get practice in the draft down here is going to help me.

"We ran through some single-car runs for Goodyear on Monday and then they put us together in a pack on Tuesday. They are trying some slightly different configurations, a little bit wider right-side tyre that they have in the works for us to see how that feels.

"We never expected to be in this position in the points. We are not getting carried away either. We've just got to focus on what we have been doing which is build a solid car for the race. We need to get it fast enough in practice so we can show speed during the race and work out the finish from there. All things considered, we have done well so far. We've just had a few reliability issues that have kept us out of the top 12 in points.

"We are good on short tracks, superspeedways and intermediate tracks. We're doing well on all of them. I honestly thought short tracks were going to be an issue for me to get up to speed to learn because I hadn't raced a Cup car on a short track or even superspeedways for that matter. However, we've had our best results at those places.

"We had a solid finish at Richmond, but we were crashed. We came back to have a decent finish considering all that we faced. You can bash those cars around and even back them into the fence and they will keep moving. We had good moments and bad moments, but we bounced back from adversity and almost got another top-10."

-credit: ma/bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robert Pressley , Marcos Ambrose , Scott Speed , David Reutimann , Joey Logano
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing