AMBROSE SET FOR SECOND NASCAR TRUCK RACE Australian motor racing star Marcos Ambrose is used to a race meeting being dragged out over three or four days - this weekend all that changes. Ambrose will compete in the RAM Tough 200 which is the...
AMBROSE SET FOR SECOND NASCAR TRUCK RACE
Australian motor racing star Marcos Ambrose is used to a race meeting being dragged out over three or four days - this weekend all that changes.
Ambrose will compete in the RAM Tough 200 which is the fifth round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the Gateway International Raceway near St Louis.
The former two-time V8 Supercar champion will have a one-hour opening practice session, a 30-minute rookie practice session and a final one-hour full-field practice all before midday local (St Louis) time on Saturday.
He will then have a four-hour break before attempting to qualify his Ford with two flying laps. There will then be another three-hour break before he lines up for the 160-lap, 200 mile (320km) race on the 1.25-mile (2km) oval under lights.
"This style of race meeting is certainly different in regards to the amount of time you are actually at the track and the amount of "down" time you have to analyse things," said Ambrose.
"You really have to be as close as possible straight out of the truck and that's the great thing about being involved with a team like Wood Brothers because they simply have so much experience.
"I am trying to absorb as much as I possibly can on a daily basis so I can compliment that experience.
"I just cannot wait to get back out there and go racing."
After missing the first three rounds because of concerns about his lack of experience on the fast super speedways at Daytona, Atlanta and California, Ambrose made his debut at Martinsville on April 1.
Ambrose qualified his Ford F-150 in 20th spot in the 39-car field.
He was running as high as 18th when he experienced how tough oval racing can be. Johnny Benson and Terry Cook got together in front of Ambrose at turn four on lap 150 and the Australian was left with nowhere to go.
He took the nose of his Ford and was forced back to the pits where his team did a repair job and got him back into the race, but unfortunately he was 52 laps down on the tight half-mile (800m) Martinsville track where a good lap time is less than 20 seconds. He was officially classed in 33rd position and scored 64 points.
"Although our finish didn't show it, we accomplished a lot in our first race last month at Martinsville," said Ambrose.
"We consistently raced in the top 10 until we got caught up in somebody else's wreck.
"The important thing is I responded real well to the information the team was giving me; they responded real well to the information I was giving them about our Ford F-150.
"I just wanted to find my little hole and stay there so I can learn. I found out even when you do that, the racing here is completely different.
"I knew there would be some bumping and things like that, but I never imagined it would be that rough. Racing over here is very close, very fast and very competitive."
"I love this kind of racing. It's new to me; completely different from what I know. The best way to pick it up is to find a comfortable place on the racetrack at Gateway, stay out of trouble and be around at the end. If we do that, it will be a success, regardless of our finishing position."
Ambrose was not only is the first driver in seven years to win back-to-back V8 Supercar championships (2003-2004), he was the first Ford driver in 30 years to win four consecutive rounds. He became the flagship driver for Ford Australia, and it wasn't difficult for the car company to support a move to the United States.
Mark Martin leads this year's championship after four rounds with 720 points and a prizemoney haul of $US191,810.
Ambrose sits 46th in the championship on 64 points after his drama at Martinsville and earned $US6,940 for his efforts.
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.