AMBROSE READY TO RIDE IN TEXAS Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose has faced more "firsts" in his first four NASCAR Craftsman Truck races then ever before in his successful motor racing career --and they are set to continue at the Texas Motor ...
AMBROSE READY TO RIDE IN TEXAS
Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose has faced more "firsts" in his first four NASCAR Craftsman Truck races then ever before in his successful motor racing career --and they are set to continue at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth this week.
Ambrose is set to campaign his Team Australia Ford F-150 in the Sam's Town 400K under the watchful eye of his Wood Brothers/JTG Racing crew.
If everything goes to plan Ambrose, who won two V8 Supercar titles in Australia for Ford, will drive the quickest he has ever been in a race car and for the longest amount of time.
Ambrose is likely to crack a qualifying lap with an average speed of more than 180mph (288kph). He will then have to get somewhere around that time for 250 miles or 400kms -- non-stop.
The longest the talented Tasmanian has spent behind the wheel previously was 300km at the annual Queensland 300 V8 Supercar race, of which he is a former winner.
"This season just offers challenge after challenge and that is one of the most appealing parts about being involved in it," said Ambrose.
"I am just learning more and more every time I get inside the Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford and Thursday and Friday will be no different."
It would be easy for Ambrose to be apprehensive about Friday night's race, after all, his last race on a 1.5-mile racetrack ended with a badly damaged truck.
"That was a long time ago," said Ambrose.
"It may have been a few weeks, but in racing, that's an eternity."
In reality, his problems at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, a sister track to Texas, were 446 laps ago. He's finished the last two races at two of the most-difficult speedways in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
"One thing you learn quickly in this business is redemption is just a race away," said Ambrose.
"We finished on the lead lap at Mansfield and we were running at the end at Dover. You can't ask for two more difficult tracks.
"At the same time, trouble is waiting for you around the next turn. You can't drop your guard. It's all about finding that balance."
Ambrose's Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford clearly is fast for Texas' high-banks, especially after qualifying third last month at Lowe's. But now he has a better idea how to get it to the finish line in one piece.
"It's all give and take, give and take," he said.
"You have to learn when to give a little, when to take a little. It's all part of the learning curve.
"Our goal is the same for Texas: Find a comfortable pace, stay out of trouble and finish the race. That's more important to us than our finishing position. But if we do those things, the finishing position will take care of itself.
"I have a much better feel for a track like Texas. I can't wait for redemption."
Ambrose, a two-time Australia V8 Supercar Series champion, is part of the driver development program for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. While he's a veteran of racing, most of his experience came in smaller cars on road courses.
"Not only are we trying to learn what our Ford F-150 needs at each racetrack, I'm trying to learn a different kind of racing," said Ambrose.
"In NASCAR, everything happens so quickly. We race so close together, it's a lot tougher. There's a lot of beating and banging.
"I can see why fans love this sport. There's never a dull moment, that's for sure."
Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards concept creator, Queensland businessman Craig Gore, is looking forward to following Ambrose's progress this weekend.
"The great thing about a Friday night race in Texas is the fact that we can listen to the race at a respectable time (11am) on Saturday morning," said Gore.
"Marcos adapted so quickly to the higher speed oval at Charlotte and I am sure he will be fine in Texas. He is a class act.
"It would be great to get a few Texans excited about Team Australia and our sponsors. I am sure we could sell plenty of RM Williams gear in that part of the world and I am confident that some Aussie Vineyards wine would also be a hit."
TIPS 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.