BUSCH: Dover: Marcos Ambrose race notes

CAREER-BEST BUSCH RESULT FOR AMBROSE WITH SENSATIONAL SIXTH AT DOVER Australian Marcos Ambrose has earned his best ever NASCAR Busch Series finish with a sensational sixth place in the Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway in Delaware ...


Australian Marcos Ambrose has earned his best ever NASCAR Busch Series finish with a sensational sixth place in the Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway in Delaware today.

Ambrose drove a superb race in the Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion at the challenging one-mile concrete speedway known as 'The Monster Mile' to better his previous best finish in the Busch Series of eighth on the Mexico City road course.

The sixth place finish won Ambrose his fourth and second-consecutive Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award. The next best rookie finisher was Juan Pablo Montoya in 14th position.

Ambrose now rises to eighth in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings and is now the equal leader of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings with fellow Ford driver David Ragan.

Today's sixth place is Ambrose's third top 10 result for the season, after finishing eighth in Mexico City on March 4 and 10th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 10.

Ambrose's sixth place today is the second best finish by a rookie on an oval in this year's NASCAR Busch Series. David Ragan was fifth at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year, while Juan Pablo Montoya's win in Mexico came on a road course.

Earlier in the day Ambrose qualified an impressive third to start the race from the inside of the second row, earning Ambrose his third top 10 qualifying effort for the season.

The former two-time Australian V8 Supercar Champion found further speed in the Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion with overnight set-up changes. Ambrose, who today entered only his 36th NASCAR event, credits the improvement to advise from NASCAR legend and the man with the most NASCAR Busch Series wins in history, Mark Martin.

Martin, who drove in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing at Dover this weekend, was called to substitute for Ambrose's team-mate Jon Wood in yesterday's practice when Wood fell ill with a severe headache.

While Travis Kvapil drove Wood's car in today's Dover 200, Martin's input to NASCAR rookie Ambrose overnight gave the 30-year-old new confidence and knowledge of the Dover track, one of the most challenging in NASCAR.

Ambrose ran comfortably in the top 10 in the early stages of the race, but unfortunately dropped to 15th position at the first round of pit stops under caution.

Ambrose slowly worked his way forwards and did well to narrowly avoid a crash involving Mike Wallace, Stephen Leicht and Ragan.

Ambrose had just passed Juan Pablo Montoya for 14th position when yellow flags flew and a caution period was called with 40 laps remaining in the 200-lap event.

Ambrose, as well as fellow Ford driver and Nextel Cup star Matt Kenseth, elected not to pit for tyres as the rest of the field streamed into pit lane.

The move meant that Ambrose now second behind Kenseth, but was now racing on tyres 43 laps older than his opposition when the race resumed with 36 laps remaining.

Ambrose proved his skill over the final stages of the race, driving superbly as his tyres wore down. At the restart Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards were able to use their new tyres to move past the Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion, but Ambrose made his mark on the competition by holding off Scott Wimmer and Casey Mears for a further 24 laps before the pair moved past.

Ambrose then had to contend with defending NASCAR Busch Series Champion and 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick and ran side-by-side on the outside of Harvick for several laps before getting clear in front of him and holding down sixth position over the final laps.

NASCAR Busch Series points leader and Ford Nextel Cup star Carl Edwards won today's race from Denny Hamlin and Scott Wimmer.

Ambrose will have a chance to make it three Raybestos Rookie of the Race Awards in a row next weekend with the 15th race in the NASCAR Busch Series at Nashville Superspeedway.

The Australian has previous form at Nashville, finishing third in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event there last year and qualifying second before finishing 17th earlier this year in the Busch event in 'Music City'.

Marcos Ambrose -- Aussie Vineyards-backed #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion

"Today we really had a great run," said Ambrose.

"I'm so proud of my guys. We put the Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion back on the map in this series.

"We've had a tough eight weeks and it's great to bounce back. We made some small structural changes to give the team more responsibility when we get here to the track and it's paying off.

"We all have a great bit of confidence running. I'm really proud of my guys because they gave me a great package.

"We wore it all out; the right front tyre, the cord is showing. We probably could have run another five laps but we didn't need to.

"It feels like I've arrived. Here I am, running at Dover, one of the toughest tracks, running in the Busch series racing against the best of the best and it's all right.

"That's all I can ask for. If I had another couple years of experience, we would have been in contention to win. At top 10 was as good as a win for us.

"Mark Martin drove our team's number 47 car in final practice yesterday and he was working on that car while we were working on ours. He was great, made some adjustments and we basically made a lot of the same changes to our car for today.

"We qualified great and had a top day, so that was a big help.

"I feel like we have made a big jump, not only in the points standings but as a team. We came of age in a lot of ways today.

"We were running against the best in the business out there and I felt I could run at the front and run an aggressive pit strategy that kept us in with a chance.

"We had to really muscle our way around on the old tyres and I could feel the right front shuddering a bit but it held on and we got there. I think the tyres probably had three or four laps left in them, not much more than that.

"This is one of the toughest tracks in NASCAR and I've got my best Busch finish here, so I feel very happy for the team and everyone that has helped me get to this point.

"When I ran here in the truck last year it was my fifth ever oval event and I was running around getting lapped and I barely knew what was going on.

"Now I've just finished sixth at this tough place and held out the defending champion for the last 10 laps. It feels like we've really turned the corner today and achieved something great for all of our sponsors.

"I'm really proud of our team and what we've done today. We raced at the front and ran hard and clean. It's a great day."

-credit: taus

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Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya