HISTORY ON THE LINE FOR AMBROSE IN HOMESTEAD Marcos Ambrose is on the verge of achieving two major goals and creating his own piece of Australian motorsport history entering the final NASCAR weekend of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in...
HISTORY ON THE LINE FOR AMBROSE IN HOMESTEAD
Marcos Ambrose is on the verge of achieving two major goals and creating his own piece of Australian motorsport history entering the final NASCAR weekend of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida this weekend.
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Ambrose is guaranteed to make his 11th start in the top level of NASCAR in the Ford 400 this weekend, having jumped the #47 entry of Michael Waltrip Racing into the top 35 in owner's points last weekend in Phoenix.
Ambrose will race full-time at Sprint Cup level next season in the #47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry and if the 32-year-old can maintain his position in the top 35 in owner's points in the season finale this weekend, he is assured of becoming the first Australian to race in the world-famous Daytona 500 next February, with the top 35 guaranteed entry into the biggest event in NASCAR.
So important is a position in that top 35, Red Bull Racing has switched lead driver Brian Vickers into its #84 entry for this weekend's race in Homestead, with rookie driver and former F1 pilot Scott Speed now driving the #83 entry, which sits safely in the top 35 while the #84 is in 36th, just 17 points behind the #47 entry of Ambrose.
Since switching to the Michael Waltrip Racing operation three races ago, Ambrose has posted finishes of 29th, 21st and 18th, showing consistent form ahead of next season.
Ambrose will perform double duty this weekend, with a big task also ahead of him in the second-tier NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Ambrose needs just a 37th place finish in the #59 Kingsford Taillgate Ford Fusion in the Ford 300 at the 1.5-mile speedway to secure his second-consecutive top 10 season finish in the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The Ford 300 will also have special significance for Ambrose, as his last drive of a Ford for the foreseeable future after eight years associated with the Blue Oval. JTG Daugherty Racing will switch to Toyota in 2009 as part of a new technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing.
Ambrose finished 10th in the Ford 300 in Homestead last season and he will be looking to repeat that effort to earn his seventh top 10 finish of the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series.
"This weekend, we just need to protect ourselves," said Ambrose.
"The owners points are really tight entering this last race, so we have to keep an eye on things and play it smart.
"We are going to be doing everything within our control to get that guaranteed start for Daytona. If we get that, it will be massive. Just massive.
"We are building on our momentum on the Cup side from a solid finish at Phoenix.
"We qualified 18th, raced in and around the top 15 and had a strong finish even after we had substantial damage.
"The team did a great job of making repairs and keeping us on the lead lap after being involved in an accident. We are all really looking forward to Homestead after that performance.
"We just need to stay focused and out of trouble. In the end when the chequered flag falls, what matters the most is that we are still inside the top 35.
"At least I have made some laps at Homestead. I look forward to going there with Frankie (Frank Kerr, #47 crew chief) and the guys. I'm continuing to get more comfortable each week."