Darlington: Marcos Ambrose race report

Marcos Ambrose endured a frustrating evening at the latest round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Darlington Raceway in the Showtime Southern 500, soldering on to finish in 25th position. Ambrose's weekend was an up and down affair, which ...

Marcos Ambrose endured a frustrating evening at the latest round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Darlington Raceway in the Showtime Southern 500, soldering on to finish in 25th position.

Ambrose's weekend was an up and down affair, which started with a crash in practice, but rebounded strongly with seventh in the starting order after a brilliant qualifying run in the untested spare car.

However, with only those two qualifying laps aboard the car prior to the start, the whole race was spent chasing an ideal setup for Darlington Raceway.

"It's a tough deal, the guys tried everything all night long to try and make the car handle, but nothing seemed to help it," Ambrose said.

"We pulled off a bit of a miracle to qualify in seventh after wrecking the primary car in practice, and ever since then we were playing catch up.

"At the start the car just had no pace, and once we went a lap down it was always going to be hard work from there.

"Credit to the team for sticking at it, we made the finish and scored some points, which is what we need, especially considering the number of people who crashed out tonight."

In a race that featured 11 caution periods that covered 56 of the 367 laps, Ambrose took advantage of many of the yellow flags spells to head to the pits for adjustments to his Toyota Camry by the JTG Daugherty Racing crew.

After the second pit stop, the handling of the car improved, with Ambrose climbing back up the order before it fell away again late in the green flag stint.

After going a lap down after 125 laps, Ambrose felt comfortable in the car once again, lifting to as high as sixth position during the next round of green-flag pit stops, after running quicker lap times than the race leaders.

At lap 196 the car started running rough, with the team diagnosing a faulty spark plug wire, and after a replacement was installed under a series of mid-race caution periods, the car was on full song again by lap 229.

After continuing to fight the handling throughout, Ambrose beat Travis Kvapil out of the pits from the last round of pit stops, with the duo battling out to the chequered flag, with Ambrose eventually getting the upper hand.

The 25th finishing position leaves Ambrose unmoved in 28th in the season standings.

Denny Hamlin took out his third race win for the year, edging out Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now moves to Dover in Delaware with a return to Sunday racing with the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & Milkshakes around the 1.61km long oval.

Vote Marcos Ambrose into the Sprint All-Star Race

Marcos Ambrose's next big challenge is to gain a starting spot in the Sprint All-Star Race, which is scheduled for the 22nd of May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The non-points paying race with a one million dollar prize purse for the winner is an invitation only event, closed to Sprint Cup race winners from the 2009-10 season, former series champions and All-Star Race winners from the past 10 years.

Ambrose can gain a start in the race by either winning next weekend's race at Dover International Raceway, finish in the top-two in the qualifying race, or win the popular fan vote, which is now open at www.nascar.com/promos/allstar/2010/vote/.

Ambrose remains in the top-ten of the voting with only two weeks remaining.

-source: marcos ambrose PR

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Marcos Ambrose , Denny Hamlin