Sonoma: Marcos Ambrose preview

AMBROSE ROAD COURSE READY Marcos Ambrose is poised to turn his season around this weekend at Infineon Raceway in California with the running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the first road course on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar this ...

AMBROSE ROAD COURSE READY

Marcos Ambrose is poised to turn his season around this weekend at Infineon Raceway in California with the running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, the first road course on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar this season.

Ambrose has endured a torrid run of misfortune in the first 15 events on the 2010 schedule; however the familiar left and right sweeping corners at Infineon Raceway have proven to be a happy hunting ground for the Australian, who scored a podium result in the corresponding race last year.

Recent road course testing at Virginia International Raceway and at Watkins Glen International have filled Ambrose with confidence, with a strong result this weekend erasing the disappointing start to the year.

"We've done a lot of hard work to be ready for this race, and we're ready for it," Ambrose said.

"It's a really big weekend for me, it's the first road-course race of the season and we fancy our chances at these events.

"It comes at a good time for us because we need a shot in the arm.

"We've been trying to turn our luck around and I'll be honest, it's been a tough year for us.

"We've just had some really tough luck with mechanical failures and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but when we haven't had bad luck, we've finished in the top-10 or top-15."

In 2009 at Infineon Raceway, Ambrose qualified in third position, but gremlins in Saturday practice saw the team install the spare engine, which saw the Toyota Camry start at the rear of the 43 car grid.

Ambrose stormed through to finish in third.

"We got off strategy pretty badly there trying to get out of sequence trying to pass the pack and trying to get back in contention," Ambrose said.

"We got up front there, but ran out of time.

"I remember vividly how fast Kasey Kahne was, he's going to be hard to beat this year, no doubt.

"Tony Stewart, on every road course race I've ever been in, he's been right at the front, too.

"I think the same players will be back up front again this year.

"It's normally a race of attrition, so you have to look out for your stuff and qualify well to stay out of trouble.

"Hopefully we can have a little easier run than last year, we really tore our stuff up trying to get through the field; by the end of the race, the gearbox was about done, so too were the brakes."

While the elite NASCAR Sprint Cup only has two visits per season to natural road courses, Ambrose rates the ability levels of the predominantly oval based racers as highly as any he has encountered in his career.

"I am surprised at the level of competition at the front of the field," Ambrose said.

"Sure there are a few guys in the back that aren't comfortable on road courses.

"You can tell that by the stop watch and the amount of dust they stir up, but the front half of the field and especially the top-10 are as good as anyone I've ever seen.

"I've raced all over the world in different championships against a lot of different drivers, and I tell you the drivers here in NASCAR that run at the front are as good as anybody you'll ever come across, they can drive anything.

"Juan Pablo Montoya will tell you the same thing, he's won races in Formula One, but he has trouble like the rest of us to get up front on the road course. "

Ambrose's road course form is outstanding; other than his third place at Infineon Raceway, Ambrose has placed second and third in his two Sprint Cup Series starts at Watkins Glen, and has won the past two Nationwide Series races at the New York venue.

The race will be broadcast live in Australia on Fox Sports 1 at 4:00am on Monday, with replays being shown both on Fox Sports and One HD.

-source: marcos ambrose AUS PR

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya