AMBROSE READY TO CONTINUE NASCAR JOURNEY As a rookie in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose is used to being under the microscope. But when he's at the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway for this Saturday's City of...
AMBROSE READY TO CONTINUE NASCAR JOURNEY
As a rookie in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose is used to being under the microscope.
But when he's at the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway for this Saturday's City of Mansfield 250, he will be under the watchful eye of an entire nation.
Ambrose proudly will carry the colors of Team Australia and Aussie Vineyards in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.
The Team Australia Ford F-150 truck, which is supported by RM Williams clothing, Tourism Australia and other progressive Australian brands, actually made its debut in Charlotte last Friday night where Ambrose qualified an amazing third in his first ever high-speed oval appearance.
This weekend, he returns to the tight and demanding Mansfield half-mile (800m), which will require a whole new approach.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me," Ambrose said.
"We made a huge step leaving Australia for NASCAR, one that's going to take some time. There's a big difference between what I used to race back home and my Ford F-150 pickup. But it's been fun. And to have Australia along for the ride is really exciting."
Ambrose, a two-time winner of the Australian V8 Supercar Series and a champion of Formula Ford, isn't afraid of the challenge to get his Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Ford F-150 up to speed.
The challenge, he said, is to find the fine line between racing hard and being reckless.
"We have to make NASCAR happy, but at the same time we have to get our truck up to speed for the race," said Ambrose.
"We've been a little frustrated by our finishes this year because we've been in a couple accidents - none of them of our own doing.
"It's all a matter of finding a comfortable place to run during the race and logging laps. The longer I'm on the track, the more I can learn.
"Our game plan from the start has been to finish races and get momentum for the future. That's still our plan for Mansfield."
Ambrose is part of the team's driver development program. He said the learning curve has been steep, if not overwhelming, but it's been fun.
"I'm really eager to get out there and race," said Ambrose.
"I want to get a lot of laps under my belt. I really like the schedule for Mansfield because we get two regular practice sessions on Friday and a third practice or rookies. I can wait to get as many laps under my belt as possible.
"I want to earn everyone's respect, and the only way to do that is to be racing hard, but do it the right way. I don't want to be a fool."
Team Australia program creator Craig Gore says he is excited about watching Ambrose's NASCAR journey over the remainder of the year.
"Marcos' qualifying effort at Charlotte last week was amazing and I just don't think people outside of the sport just realise how big an effort that was," said Gore.
"His race result let him down, but those things happen at the truck, Busch and Nextel Cup levels.
"I have every confident that Marcos will do some great things in NASCAR and the next step of the journey is in Mansfield this weekend."
TIP FOR AUSTRALIAN FANS
There are several websites relating to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series where you can follow Ambrose's progress.
The best three we have discovered so far are the official NASCAR.com site, truckseries.com and woodbrothersracing.com
You can register for Track Pass on the NASCAR site which will give you access to radio broadcasts, in-car audio and video of most races for a fee, but you will need a US credit card (so ring a mate!)
You can get a free radio broadcast of the races on truckseries.com by going to the trackside area of the site.
* Marcos Ambrose did not compete in the first three rounds of the championship.