Phoenix II: Marcos Ambrose preview

AMBROSE HITS A CENTURY IN PHOENIX Marcos Ambrose will start his 100th NASCAR race as part of double duty at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend. Ambrose will clock up a century of NASCAR starts when he pilots the ...

AMBROSE HITS A CENTURY IN PHOENIX

Marcos Ambrose will start his 100th NASCAR race as part of double duty at Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend.

Ambrose will clock up a century of NASCAR starts when he pilots the #59 Kingsford Tailgate Ford Fusion of JTG Daugherty Racing in the Hefty Odor Block 200 in the penultimate race of the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The Australian currently sits 10th in the series standings in NASCAR's second-tier division and after a strong ninth place run in Texas last weekend, Ambrose is keen to cement his second-straight top 10 season performance in the final two races of 2008.

Ambrose will also aim to qualify for his 10th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, behind the wheel of the #47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry of Michael Waltrip Racing.

The Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the unique one-mile oval will be crucial for Ambrose as he aims to bring the #47 entry into the top 35 in Sprint Cup owner's points ahead of a full-time campaign in the top flight of NASCAR in the #47 next year with JTG Daugherty Racing.

After a strong run in Texas last weekend Ambrose has brought the #47 entry to within 44 points of the all-important 35th position in owner's points, a place that would guarantee him a start to each week's race.

Phoenix International Raceway is one of the toughest venues on the NASCAR schedule, with each end of the speedway offering vastly different corner configurations.

At the corresponding event last season Ambrose led a courageous turnaround in the fortunes of the #59 Kingsford team, coming home in 15th position after qualifying an ill-handing car in a lowly 38th place.

Ambrose will be one of eight drivers vying for the seven remaining starting spots in Sunday's penultimate Sprint Cup event of the season. Should Ambrose qualify, it will mark his Sprint Cup debut at Phoenix International Raceway.

MARCOS AMBROSE:

"It's hard to believe that I have run a combined total of 99 races," said Ambrose.

"Maybe one day to make my 1,000th NASCAR start like Michael Waltrip did recently. That's a really big accomplishment.

"We had a good weekend in Texas and we look to build on our performance at Phoenix.

"I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to run both series thanks to JTG Daugherty Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. Track time is really important, but at the same time the cars handle so differently. There's not much that you can crossover from the two.

"Phoenix International Raceway is really unique. I've run well there in the past in both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series. I feel like it's a track on the schedule that I will be stronger at.

"I'm not sure if we will be in the top 35 after Phoenix, but we are definitely putting the heat on. We've just got to stay out of trouble this weekend and do as well as we can and see how the points fall in the end. It's going to come down to the last race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I am just really starting to get comfortable with the guys and getting more confidence behind the wheel each week. Having more experience with the team will help us be that much better. I need to keep doing what I have been doing and that's continuing to learn, trying to be consistent and finishing the race."

"In the Kingsford car in the Nationwide Series, we have reached where we are by racing hard and that's what we're going to keep doing.

"When we show up at the racetrack every week, we're looking to put ourselves in position to win the race. You can't do that by playing it overly safe. We're going to Phoenix with every intention to run in the top 10, be in contention to win and see how things play out. The points will work themselves out.

"Our goal when we started the season as to win a race and finish in the top 10 in the series.

"We're close to accomplishing both. But let's face it: ninth is better than 10th; eighth is better than ninth. We can't slow down now. There will be plenty of time to take it easy in the off-season."

-credit: ma/bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Marcos Ambrose
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing , Michael Waltrip Racing