Phoenix: Marcos Ambrose preview

AMBROSE NEEDS SPEED AND LUCK IN PHOENIX Marcos Ambrose rides a wave a momentum into the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in Arixzona this weekend. But unfortunately for the Australian NASCAR ace, his recent run of ...

AMBROSE NEEDS SPEED AND LUCK IN PHOENIX

Marcos Ambrose rides a wave a momentum into the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in Arixzona this weekend.

But unfortunately for the Australian NASCAR ace, his recent run of outstanding speed has been curtailed by engine problems, most notably in Atlanta and Texas where he failed to finish with engine failure.

Nevertheless, Ambrose is very pleased with the pace and progress displayed by the #47 JTG Daugherty Racing team so far this year.

While Ambrose sits 28th in the Sprint Cup standings after seven races, if his two engine failures are taken out of the equation the 32-year-old has an average finishing position of 16.6 -- a far better reflection of his pace so far this season.

AMBROSE EARNS PRAISE FROM BURTON --

Marcos Ambrose was received praise from high places this week.

21-time Sprint Cup race winner Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 entry for Richard Childress Racing, was asked for his opinion of Ambrose during this week's weekly NASCAR Media Teleconference:

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about Marcos Ambrose. What are your impressions of him as a driver? Is he earning respect out there? Have you had any interaction with him off the track?

JEFF BURTON: I really haven't had a whole lot of interaction with Marcos. I can tell you I think everybody has been impressed with what he's been able to do this year. He's run very competitively. I know they had an engine problem the week before last. They've run very competitively. I've raced around him on the racetrack a lot this year. I think he's a lot like any rookie, he's feeling his way through it. But if you look at what he's done to this point, I think it's been really good.

We saw it in the Nationwide Series. We saw in equipment that wasn't the same equipment that Kyle Busch is driving or I'm driving, but he could still be competitive on a given day. I think everybody knows the talent is there. If you look back in his career, what he's been, it's been pretty impressive. He's very, very highly thought of in Australia. It's no surprise he can be successful. He's gonna be here for a long time.

QUESTION: Can you understand him when you talk to him?

JEFF BURTON: I grew up with Ward (Burton, brother), so I can understand pretty much anybody. We kind of talk alike actually.

FIRST SATURDAY NIGHT CUP RACE FOR AMBROSE --

Marcos Ambrose will start his 19th Sprint Cup race in Phoenix this weekend and it will be his first Saturday night race in the top level of NASCAR.

The one-mile oval in Avondale, just outside of Phoenix, will present drivers and teams with hot desert conditions throughout the day, before the temperature cools for racing.

AMBROSE A GUEST ON SPEED TV's WINDTUNNEL WITH DAVE DESPAIN --

Marcos Ambrose was an in-studio guest on popular SPEED TV programme 'Windtunnel with Dave Despain' last Sunday.

Ambrose and Despain spoke at length about the Australian's first full season in Sprint Cup, the rise of JTG Daugherty Racing and his background racing in Europe and back home in Australia.

WHAT MARCOS HAS TO SAY:

On the strong start to the season --

"Five out of seven races, we have had problems and if we had not, we would be close to or in the top 12 in points," said Ambrose.

"Instead, we are 28th. It has been a bitter sweet start to the season for us. We have had fast cars each week and have been able to pass guys like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, but we have had two races where we didn't finish. We also had three others where we have had substantial problems that hurt our results.

"We have been running so well, but we have to remember that we are still brand new. We have had a little time to reflect on the reliability issues and we are getting a handle on everything. It's just been unfortunate because we had a top five run going at Bristol and dropped a cylinder or two and ended up 10th.

"We had to finish Martinsville with no brakes. Our engine blew up at both at Atlanta and at Texas. It was nice to be able to have an off weekend to reflect and put everything behind us. Now, we are ready for Phoenix and we aim to put the #47 Clorox car up front."

On the track --

"Phoenix has an old, worn out surface and has some bumps through it," said Ambrose.

"Each corner is a different shape and has different banking and it's a little tri-oval with the corner on the backstretch.

"So it's a really interesting track and I enjoy going there.

"We finished 18th in the fall Cup race last year so we've got some good history to go back and look through.

"Phoenix is a track on the schedule that I really like. It's what I call a small, big track. It is an old surface and unique in its design. It's a track where it's hard to set a car up for.

"You can't set the car up perfectly for either end of the track. It's always about compromise. If you are beating the guy in Turns 1 and 2, you know he's going to have an advantage in Turns 3 and 4."

On the race --

"I'm looking forward to Phoenix," said Ambrose.

"I look forward to every race but I'm keen to get our team back on track after the engine failure in Texas.

"We've got great speed going on the one-and-a-half mile ovals and some good short-track form too, so we're looking to Phoenix to try and get something special done there as well."

A WORD FROM JTG DAUGHERTY RACING TEAM OWNER TAD GESCHICKTE --

"Marcos has run in the top five and top 10 for the last three weeks and you have got to feel positive," said Geschickter,.

"When someone like my mentor Richard Childress says, 'We are really happy for you guys,' that means something because he's someone I have always looked up to.

"We have been fortunate and Marcos has done an amazing job. He's worked so hard at this craft and so it is fun for us to see him do well. He has become a part of the family. We have formed a great friendship."

AND A WORD FROM MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING TEAM OWNER MICHAEL WALTRIP --

"Marcos has been the man," said Waltrip.

"He ran in the top five at Bristol most of the race and he finished in the top 15 at Martinsville. Those are two really tough tracks for someone that hasn't done this a lot.

"Marcos is just good everywhere. I'm happy for him. He's a perfect fit for me and David (Reutimann). I remember him saying that this was his chance or he'd have to go back to Tasmania. He's going to make it and he is going to be just fine."

-credit: ma/bam

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson , Marcos Ambrose , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing , JTG Daugherty Racing