AMBROSE, STP/KINGSFORD TEAM FOCUS ON TRACK, NOT COMPETITION SPARTA, Ken. -- Like the age-old question: which came first, the chicken or the egg, Marcos Ambrose faces a question without an easy answer every week in the NASCAR Nationwide Series:...
AMBROSE, STP/KINGSFORD TEAM FOCUS ON TRACK, NOT COMPETITION
SPARTA, Ken. -- Like the age-old question: which came first, the chicken or the egg, Marcos Ambrose faces a question without an easy answer every week in the NASCAR Nationwide Series: Do you race the track or the competition?
For Ambrose and the No. 59 STP/Kingsford team, the answer is surprisingly simple. "I race the track," he said.
This week's assignment is the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, home to Saturday night's Meijer 300. The quad-oval with 14-degree banking has produced some of the best races in the series, and it's been especially good for the entire JTG Racing operation. Ambrose started sixth and finished 11th in his debut a year ago; JTG teammate Kelly Bires finished seventh.
The race at Kentucky couldn't come at a better time for Ambrose. He's been involved in accidents in the last two races and needs a solid finishes to continue his drive for a Top-10 finish in the point standings. He was 28th after three races and now is 14th. "None of the accidents were Marcos' fault, but the result is the same -- a couple of torn up cars," said crew chief Gary Cogswell. "We built three cars that were identical to each other, and all three were really good cars. Two now are damaged and in the process of being repaired. It generally takes a month to get them turned around because once they're put back together it takes that long to verify everything to make sure they back exactly like they were.
Nonetheless, Ambrose won't change his approach. His first priority is to make the STP/Kingsford Ford fast and comfortable for the racetrack. Racing the competition is a small part of the equation. "It's one in the same thing, really," Ambrose said. "It's just how you want to focus your energy. I chose to focus mine on the track. If you focus on how you're driving and fight the racetrack, then you'll only pass people by accident. If you can conquer the track, then you're going to go pretty well, pass cars and be in good shape."
Saturday's race starts a special five-race program to feature STP's oil and engine treatments products. STP, like Kingsford, has been a longstanding partner in NASCAR -- STP started with Richard Petty in 1972; Kingsford has been with JTG Racing since 1998. Both Kingsford and STP are owned by The Clorox Sales Company.
Ambrose also will carry the STP colors in races at The Milwaukee Mile, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Montreal and Watkins Glen International.
While the paint scheme changes for Ambrose and the STP/Kingsford Ford, one thing won't ever change -- Ambrose's approach. His will focus his energy on racing the track, not the competition.
FAST & FUN FACTS:
- Ambrose is 14th in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings with two Top-10 finishes in 14 starts for JTG Racing.
- Ambrose has one career start at Kentucky. He started sixth and finished 11th there last year.
- Kingsford has the longest current-running sponsor relationship with the same Nationwide Series team, dating back to the 1998 season.
- Ambrose is a two-time Ford V8 Supercar Series champion, a road-racing series in Australia. He won 27 races in that series.
- Ambrose will make 12 selected appearances in the Sprint Cup Series this season, including four starts for JTG Racing.
- Pole qualifying for the Meijer is 5:10 p.m. on Saturday.