HISTORIC DAY FOR AMBROSE IN KANSAS Team Australia NASCAR Truck driver Marcos Ambrose has made history by finishing third in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas today. Ambrose, who this year left his native Australia to ...
HISTORIC DAY FOR AMBROSE IN KANSAS
Team Australia NASCAR Truck driver Marcos Ambrose has made history by finishing third in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas today.
Ambrose, who this year left his native Australia to pursue a career in NASCAR in the United States, qualified fourth for today's race and made a great start to lead the opening laps, becoming the first Australian to lead laps in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition.
Ambrose, a two-time Australian V8 Supercar Series Champion, passed Rick Crawford and Mike Skinner around the outside to take the lead at the start of the race. The NASCAR rookie then drove a smart race, running in the top 15 and keeping his nose clean. Ambrose and his Team Australia crew had set up the F-150 truck to be at its best at the end of the race when the extra rubber on the surface produces more grip, so the Tasmanian was keen to get to the latter part of the race in a position to challenge for a good finish.
After his last pit stop Ambrose sat in 14th position, but the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards truck came on strong, with Ambrose storming up the order to be fifth when a caution period was called on lap 146 of the 167-lap race.
At the restart Ambrose followed Brendan Gaughan past Ron Hornaday to reach fourth and on the last lap the Team Australia driver made one more position, getting third by edging past Gaughan right on the finish line.
The third place finish is the highest by a rookie in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season and is the first time a non-American driver has finished in the top five of a truck series event since Canadian Ron Fellows won on the Watkins Glen road course on June 26, 1999.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
MARCOS AMBROSE -- TEAM AUSTRALIA FORD F-150
"This is just great," said Ambrose. "This is what we came over here to do.
"We had a great start. I went around the outside of everybody and led the whole field for those first laps.
"We drifted back a bit and let a few guys through. We just worked on getting the pit strategy right and waiting for the track to come to us.
"After our last stop we found ourselves in about 14th position but the truck was good towards the end and we made up a lot of ground.
"I'm learning all the time over here and the set-up is crucial. Tonight we definitely made it work. The truck was pretty loose at the start, but as rubber goes down there is more grip and it pushes the nose up the race track and straightens you up. So you have really got to hold on for the first part of the race and come back towards the end. It's just a bit wild there at the start when you are hanging the tail out at 180mph.
"We ran around in the pack all night and mixed it with the fastest guys out here. We definitely had a better truck as the rubber went down and I felt confident running with other trucks and racing these guys.
"This result was a while coming and we definitely felt half-ready to go a couple of races ago. We just had to cycle through and get some finishes under our belt. What we have been trying to achieve is to get a little better each time we go out and keep improving the truck.
"Gary (Cosgwell, Ambrose's crew chief) is a veteran. He's been in Cup, Busch and now Truck. He is a great guy and we have similar attitudes about our racing. It took a couple of races for us to work each other out, but now we both understand what the other is saying about the truck. I have a better understanding of what he is saying about the truck and he understands what it is I am explaining that the truck is doing out there on the race track.
"Everything is really going great with this crew at the moment. It's not just Gary, but the whole Wood Brothers/JTG crew that is getting behind me and teaching me a lot and giving me an awesome truck.
"The next week could be tough, but whatever happens next week we have to enjoy this result now. I am really enjoying this team and this racing, so it makes it all the better to give them this result and I'm really excited.
"After I had my best result last week with an 18th, our goal for the next three races was to improve on that result in each of the next three races. That sort of changes after this result, because we only have two positions left.
"So know we have to just keep improving the truck, learn the set-up more and just get a little bit better at every race. The truck we are using is Truck #2 in the Wood Brothers stable. I have about seven or eight trucks at my disposal and all of them are a little bit different in terms of chassis stiffness and set-ups. I have now found a truck I like and that I understand.
"The boys will rush this truck back to the shop to take the engine out of it and freshen it up so we can use it at the next race. That's one of the things about this racing, because there are going to be trucks at your disposal that you like, but it takes time to sort through."
CRAIG GORE -- TEAM AUSTRALIA
"What a fantastic result," said Gore.
"The people who I class as good judges in this sport have said that this would happen, but even some of them are surprised at how quickly Marcos has put himself at the front of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck field.
"Marcos, his Team Australia crew and the whole Wood Brothers/JTG Racing team have had a plan and they have stuck with it. Today's third is a result of patience and persistence, two of the most important ingredients you need if you ever going to be successful in this sport.
"I'm thrilled to see Marcos flying the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards banner at the front of the field. Now we can look forward to a terrific second half of the season where, who knows, we may see Marcos go a couple of steps higher on the podium."