AMBROSE DRIVES FROM LAST TO THIRD IN WATKINS GLEN CUP RACE Marcos Ambrose has stormed through the field to finish third after starting from last in the Centurion Boats at the Glen at Watkins Glen International in New York state today. After...
AMBROSE DRIVES FROM LAST TO THIRD IN WATKINS GLEN CUP RACE
Marcos Ambrose has stormed through the field to finish third after starting from last in the Centurion Boats at the Glen at Watkins Glen International in New York state today.
After starting from 43rd position as a result of qualifying being rained out on Friday, Ambrose's result was the best-ever finish by an Australian in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the top division of NASCAR. Ambrose and the Wood Brothers Racing team earned US$141,095 in prize money for third in today's 90-lap race.
In just his third Sprint Cup start, Ambrose was one of the fastest cars on track all day long behind the wheel of the #21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion.
The 31-year-old made 12 positions in the first nine cars, circulating as the fastest car on the track despite being in the thick of the field.
Ambrose made his first pit stop on lap 25 under green flag conditions and after the first round of stops had played out Ambrose was in 21st position, more than halfway through the field.
Ambrose edged into the top 20 on lap 40 and five laps later at half race distance was in 15th place.
When a caution was called on lap 50 of 90, Ambrose made his second stop. But some five laps later Ambrose reported a vibration from the front wheels due to loose lug nuts, and with 33 laps remaining he re-entered the pits to have the wheels tightened and also collect a top up on fuel that would allow him to safely complete the race without a further pit stop.
On lap 65 Ambrose had made his way up to fifth position and continued to set some of the fastest laps of the race.
With 16 laps remaining Ambrose passed Martin Truex Jr for fourth position, and three laps later he inherited third place with Ryan Newman spun at Turn 1.
At the restart after Newman's spin Ambrose defended from former Formula 1 race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, the two setting out to chase down the Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.
But one lap later a massive crash at the final corner brought out the red flag for over half an hour. Nine cars were involved in the spectacular wreck but all drivers emerged from their cars unassisted.
At the restart with five laps remaining Ambrose did not get a good jump, but over the next two laps he closed the deficit to Stewart. Ambrose was right on the bumper of Stewart but in the end came home in third.
Ambrose's third-place finish was the first top five for the Wood Brothers since Ricky Rudd finished fourth at Bristol Motor Speedway on 27 August 2005.
Ambrose will again aim to race in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next weekend when he races at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.
"It was just a long day out there," said Ambrose.
"We used the car up a lot and at the end we had no clutch left, no brakes left and it was tiring.
"Coming through the field is really hard work. We really worked the car hard to get through the field in the first half of the race.
"It was great fun running with those guys at the front. I've really got to thank them for not taking me off there. It would be easy to send me off into the weeds with that rookie stripe on the car.
"The Wood Brothers have given me a great car on both the road courses and I've really got to thank them. It's great to run well for them.
"I've got to thank Little Debbie and the McKee family and everyone involved here. We've had a good run here and I'll remember this weekend for a long time."