AMBROSE FINISHES AS THE LEADING ROOKIE IN CHARLOTTE Team Australia driver Marcos Ambrose battled hard in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 to finish as the leading NASCAR Busch Series Rookie driver in 20th position at Lowe's Motor Speedway in ...
AMBROSE FINISHES AS THE LEADING ROOKIE IN CHARLOTTE
Team Australia driver Marcos Ambrose battled hard in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 to finish as the leading NASCAR Busch Series Rookie driver in 20th position at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina tonight.
After setting the 17th fastest time aboard the Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion during qualifying earlier in the day, Ambrose started the 300-mile race from the inside of the ninth row in the 43-car field.
With the race starting at 8:00pm local time the track conditions were significantly different to when Ambrose qualified earlier in the day at which point the track temperature was a sizzling 146 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius).
As a consequence of the ever changing track conditions Ambrose focused on settling into a rhythm during the early running of the race. When Ambrose made his first pit stop on lap 29 the two-time Australian V8 Supercar Champion was placed just outside the top 20.
While the race continued Ambrose maintained his position and was engaged in a battle with experienced NASCAR Nextel Cup campaigners Robby Gordon and Casey Mears along with rising star Aric Almirola.
Despite going a lap down on the leaders courtesy of a slow pit stop under green flag conditions just prior to half race distance Ambrose maintained his composure and focused on gaining valuable experience around the 1.5-mile oval.
As several drivers spun out of contention over the final 50 laps, including early race leader Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Krisiloff, Ambrose steered clear of trouble and recorded some good lap times to cross the line 20th.
After starting from 32nd position Kasey Kahne showed superior speed to take the race victory over a Mears. The 200-lap race had 14 lead changes across 10 different drivers with the field slowed during seven caution periods for a total of 28 laps.
Series leader Carl Edwards endured two spins during the race to finish 17th. After 13 races he holds a 423-point lead in the standings over Kevin Harvick. Ambrose is 13th, 17 points shy of the top ten.
Ambrose's result ensured he closed the gap to Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader David Ragan. It is the third time this year Ambrose has finished as the leading Rookie driver.
Ambrose will next race at Dover International Speedway on June 2 in the 14th race of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series.
Marcos Ambrose -- Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion
"I had a great time out there tonight and learnt a lot," said Ambrose.
"The drivers who are also racing in tomorrow's Cup race had a huge advantage because they had two hours of Cup practice today and you're not going to overcome that, but we got in the groove pretty quick.
"We put a good qualifying lap down and, in general, I was pretty comfortable there in the first stint.
"Unfortunately we lost a lug nut in the pit stop which slowed the stop which put us a lap down, but we fought back well.
"At one stage I think we were down in 33rd after we made some bad changes to the setup in the pit stops. However, by the end of the race we turned it around to get the car going pretty damn good and were setting times equal to those in the top ten which was pleasing.
"Many other drivers managed not to finish but I got to the end unscathed which was pleasing. I thought I might have been in trouble a few times, but somehow I took it off the fence and brought it home.
"I'm really happy. I'm working great with the guys in the team, we ended tonight with a competitive package and we're continually making progress."
-credit: team aus