BRISTOL SPECTACLE AWAITS AMBROSE, KINGSFORD WITH HICKORY FORD BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Marcos Ambrose will never forget the first time he saw the Bristol Motor Speedway five years ago. That's when he realized he wanted to be a NASCAR driver. Ambrose...
BRISTOL SPECTACLE AWAITS AMBROSE, KINGSFORD WITH HICKORY FORD
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Marcos Ambrose will never forget the first time he saw the Bristol Motor Speedway five years ago. That's when he realized he wanted to be a NASCAR driver.
Ambrose returns to Thunder Valley for Friday night's Food City 250, this time as a driver in the No. 59 Kingsford with Hickory Ford. A lot has changed for Ambrose in the last three years, but one thing remains the same -- his infatuation with the spectacle associated with the famed half-mile.
"It is a real intimidating place," he said. "I went there as a fan in 2003 and watched the races there. It is a real buzz to get back there and actually drive the track."
Bristol's half-mile layout with 36-degree banking -- the steepest in the sport -- generally creates some of the wildest action of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season. It's tough on cars, tough on crews and certainly tough on patience. Cars will have dents and scratches; tempers will be frayed.
"When you go to Bristol, you know you're probably going to leave in a bad mood," said crew chief Gary Cogswell. "A lot of work goes into preparing the Kingsford car, and by the end of the race it may look like it's been in a demolition derby. Actually, 250 laps at Bristol is a demolition derby."
Ambrose comes to Bristol ranked 10th in the Nationwide Series standings. That makes Bristol important for other reasons.
"We set out this year with two goals: to win a race and finish in the Top 10 in points," Ambrose said. "We got that win for JTG Daugherty Racing a couple weeks ago. We're in the Top 10. Now it's important to stay there. A lot can happen at Bristol. It's real easy to get caught up in somebody else's mistake. You have to keep your temper under control and try to be the one handing out all the beating and banging, not the guy on the receiving end."
Every time Ambrose returns to Bristol, he can't help but remember his first trip. The sight of 170,000 seats, the deafening sound of 43 cars and the smell of hot tires, burning brakes and twisted metal still is intoxicating.
"I had some fans with me to watch the first race this year and they got debris in their beer cans," Ambrose said. "That's all they could talk about was how they were sitting so close that they got debris in their beer cans. Bristol is a great place. It's one of the best tracks we go to because of the atmosphere."