AMBROSE BATTLES HIGH AND LOWS IN CHARLOTTE Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose was given a taste of the extreme highs and lows only motorsport can dish out in the sixth round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Lowe's Motor Speedway in...
AMBROSE BATTLES HIGH AND LOWS IN CHARLOTTE
Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose was given a taste of the extreme highs and lows only motorsport can dish out in the sixth round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte North Carolina today.
Ambrose, driving the #20 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150, turned plenty of heads in pit lane when he slotted into provisional pole mid-way through this afternoon's qualifying session.
The effort was impressive considering Ambrose was having only his third oval race and his first on a "high-speed" 1.5-mile (2.4km) track. He was also using a new harder-compound Goodyear tyre on the fast and flowing Charlotte venue which has been recently resurfaced.
He managed to hold on to top spot on the leader board until late in the session when he was pushed back into third slot by 1995 series champion and defending pole winner Mike Skinner and female driver Erin Crocker, who has a great oval racing pedigree.
Ambrose, a former two-time V8 Supercar champion in Australia for Ford, dropped three places on the first lap of the race and then a couple more the following lap after being caught high on the track.
He slotted back one more spot before it all came unstuck at turn four and he spun causing damage to the front and rear of his truck.
He managed to limp back to pit lane, but was then directed to his team garage by his crew chief John Monsam.
The Team Australia crew then went to work on repairing Ambrose's ride, but it could not be fixed in time for him to rejoin the race.
"I was just trying to get out of the way. I was stuck on the high line there, and I was just letting them go, letting them go, letting them go, and you can only run up there so long when nobody else has been up there all weekend," said Ambrose.
"I'm not sure what happened; she just went around on me. I just feel terrible because all we want to do is finish. I'm just trying to finish one of these deals.
"We put ourselves in pretty bad position there starting so far up. I was just trying to roll around and get to the back as soon as I could, and I just couldn't get there in time."
"Basically I was trying to get out of the way and it cost me.
"Obviously we were delighted with the qualifying run because we never had any expectations of being anywhere near row two.
"We were just out there to ensure we kept the Team Australia truck in one piece.
"Qualifying capped off a great couple of days with the announcement of Team Australia's support of the team, but unfortunately that's where the excitement ended.
"I was proud to be the fastest Ford driver in qualifying, but disappointed with the final result.
"I think we really learnt a lot this weekend and I am so disappointed for everyone at Wood Brothers/JTG Racing and for the people here and back in Australia who are part of such a growing support base for this program.
"We have a week before we get back out there and start it all over again."
Kyle Busch won the race for second consecutive year from Terry Cook, while Todd Bodine was third.
Team Australia founder, Craig Gore, said he was proud of Ambrose's achievements despite his short amount of time in oval racing.
"You don't qualify third if things are not progressing in the team and there is no doubt Marcos and the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing organisation are forming a terrific relationship," said Gore.
"We are just proud to have Marcos out there flying the flag for Australia and Team Australia's partners. He is a professional racer who has, and will continue to, achieve great things."
Ambrose is the first Australian to take on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series full-time and the first Aussie since Adam Clarke, the son-in-law of US-based Australian racing identity Barry Graham, drove two races in 2002 for a best finish of 20th.
The next round of the championship will be the UAW-GM 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, a half mile (0.8km) oval, in Ohio next weekend.