Martinsville: Marcos Ambrose preview

Ambrose carries short-track momentum from Bristol to Martinsville Marcos Ambrose is looking to continue the momentum gained from a top 10 finish last week in Bristol into the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia ...

Ambrose carries short-track momentum from Bristol to Martinsville

Marcos Ambrose is looking to continue the momentum gained from a top 10 finish last week in Bristol into the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia this weekend.

Ambrose will race on a half-mile oval for the second-consecutive week, looking to repeat the form that saw him earn a 10th place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend -- his highest finish in Sprint Cup competition on an oval.

The Martinsville oval is vastly different to Bristol. While the length is the same the banking in the corners at Martinsville is a relatively flat 12 degrees, while the variable banking of between 26 and 30 degrees at Bristol makes for much higher speeds.

While the #47 Little Debbie livery will again be raced this weekend, it will be a different car to that used at Bristol, as Ambrose and Kerr look to fine tune chassis 609 from the Michael Waltrip Racing workshop (the same chassis used by Ambrose at Phoenix last November).

While it will be Ambrose's first start in the Sprint Cup Series at Martinsville, the Australian has fond memories of past races at the short track. It was here that he made his first-ever NASCAR start back in 2006 in the Camping World Truck Series.

A test day at the half-mile Little Rock Speedway in North Carolina in the lead up to Bristol appears to have paid dividends and resulted in strong short track speed. That venue is a very close replica of the Martinsville oval giving Ambrose and his team good preparation leading into this weekend.


Frank Kerr, crew chief for Marcos Ambrose and the #47 JTG Daugherty Racing team, was awarded the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend.

Kerr, a former Sprintcar driving ace in his own right, is now eligible for the Wypall Crew Chief of the Year Award, which is determined at the end of the season and awards the winner US$20,000.

Ambrose was quick to credit Kerr's efforts as a major part of the team's 10th place run. Kerr made the call for Ambrose to stay on track and gain track position on lap 26 while others pitted under caution.

He also worked closely with Ambrose to help nurse the #47 Little Debbie entry home after it's engine was reduced to just six cylinders for the last 150 laps of the 500-lap race.

The award is judged by Car Edwards' #99 crew chief Bob Osbourne, Kevin Harvick's #29 crew chief Todd Berrier, FOX Sports and SPEED TV analysis and former crew chief Jeff Hammond as well as representatives from Wypall.


Before the on-track action gets underway in Martinsville, there will be team pride on the line as Ambrose and his #47 JTG Daugherty Racing crew enter a bowling challenge against fellow Sprint Cup Series crews.

"We are bowling against some teams in Martinsville and there is US$200 prize and a trophy up for grabs," said Ambrose said.

"So, we've really got to be on our game. We're really looking forward to hanging out and having a good time, but we're taking it seriously because we want to win."


Marcos Ambrose has been hard at work between sessions at Bristol and will again hit the garage area, Sharpie in hand, for more Sprint Cup driver signatures for his Victorian Bushfire Appeal in Martinsville.

So far, the following Sprint Cup drivers have signed the firefighting jacket on auction at

- Matt Kenseth - Kyle Busch - Carl Edwards - Kasey Kahne - Kevin Harvick - Ryan Newman - Denny Hamlin - Kurt Busch - Bobby Labonte - Jamie McMurray - David Ragan - Joey Logano - Max Papis - Aric Almirola

Also, Marcos Ambrose himself, as well as Michael Waltrip Racing stablemates David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip, have signed the jacket, as worn by firefighter Steve Teear in the Black Saturday bushfires.

Ambrose also has a special livery race helmet for auction, modeled of a CFA firefighting helmet and signed by the Australian NASCAR driver himself.

"We're auctioning off a special race helmet, trying to raise money for the Yarra Glen fire department," said Ambrose.

"My helmet is painted up like a fireman's helmet from the CFA (Country Fire Authority) and we're auctioning it off over the next few weeks at as well as the actual fireman's jacket that was used during the fires down there.

"I'm going to get every driver from the Sprint Cup Series to sign that jacket and also auction that through my website, We're trying to raise some money for them to buy them a new fire truck.

"It was a huge disaster down at home and I'm very aware of home many families and people have lost loved ones and property.

"So I'm playing my part over here in the US to hopefuly try and raise awareness about the Australian bushfires and try to raise some money."


On the track --

"One memory that I have racing at Martinsville is when Fatback (Michael McSwain) made me eat my first Martinsville hot dog back in 2006," said Ambrose said.

"I guess that was my initiation into NASCAR. Martinsville is where it all began for me. It's where Tad and Jodi Geschickter gave me my first crack at NASCAR. So, this track has real significance to me.

"It's very different to Bristol, but a lot of the short-track principles still apply. Getting the car through the centre of the corner, not over-driving the car, looking after the equipment and getting the power to the ground are all important."

On the race --

"We run a different car in Martinsville (to Bristol) and the car is completely different underneath," said Ambrose.

"It's what you have to do. You keep changing your stuff every week because all these tracks are so different.

"The difference between the field from the front to the back is so small that you need to take every advantage that you can.

"We're on a high, we've had a great result last time out and now we've got to keep up the good work and try to keep pushing for those top 10 finishes.

"Like Frank and I have said all along, our aim is to have a car and a team good enough to perform at a level where we can get regular top 10 runs and from there the points will look after themselves and the top fives will come."


"Last week we took Marcos out to Little Rock, which is similar to Martinsville," said Kerr.

"We wanted him to run on a track of that size to get used to running with a lot of brake and not overdriving the corners.

"Not overdriving the corners will be the biggest challenge he'll face this weekend. We feel confident and he'll do just fine.

"We've got some momentum and we are looking to top our finish at Bristol."

-credit: ma/bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Max Papis , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Marcos Ambrose , David Reutimann , Carl Edwards , David Ragan , Denny Hamlin , Aric Almirola , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing