Under the Spotlight: Marcos Ambrose Proves He Can Hold His Own on Ovals

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
Marcos Ambrose, in his first season with Richard Petty Motorsports, has certainly had his struggles this season; however, with several good finishes, including his season-high third place at Dover International Speedway in Sunday’s FedEx 400, Ambrose is optimistic about upcoming races and seems to be shattering the belief that he is not fit for oval track racing.
With qualifying for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks being rained out, Sunday’s grid was determined by practice speeds – Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Dewalt Team started 18th.
“The track was changing every run throughout the run,” said Ambrose. “The car was getting really slick on that rubber. It wasn’t much you could do. You couldn’t ask for much change on the car because you knew it would be that way all day. You just had to change your line and keep searching.”
While most drivers, including Ambrose, dealt with slippery track conditions for much of the race as rubber was laid on the track, finding his line and charging forward was definitely not an issue for Ambrose.
He and his No. 9 Dewalt Ford Fusion moved up to 12th within just 20 laps and on lap 41, just before NASCAR threw out the yellow for a competition caution, Ambrose had entered the top-10 and would eventually make it all the way up to second.
In the end, track position was greatly determined by strategy on pit road – with many opting to take two tires or no tires in order to gain spots on the track. Near the end of the race, Ambrose made a two-tire stop and restarted the race in sixth, passing Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brian Vickers and eventually Kyle Busch to nab third on lap 373.
For Ambrose, who remained toward the front of the field for most of the day, consistency has perhaps been his biggest struggle of the season.
The No. 9 Stanley Dewalt Team finished fourth at Las Vegas and sixth at Texas, but has also had six finishes outside the top 20.
Ambrose has proven he can hold his own against some of the sport’s heavy hitters, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Jimmie Johnson and current series points leader, Carl Edwards, as was apparent in Sunday’s 400-mile race at Dover.
“Today I’m really excited about because we had a really good day at Darlington that didn’t work out our way at the end and finished 13th,” said Ambrose following the FedEx 400.
Looking ahead to the upcoming races, Ambrose explained, “I’m really excited that our team is learning, they’re learning me, I’m learning them. I’m learning how these cars work. This result today I’m really excited about because I think it’s going to lead to a great Charlotte, Pocono, Indy, all these great big tracks coming. I feel like our team is suited to those tracks. We’ve just had some rough luck so far this year. We’ve had accidents and incidents outside our control that has hurt our points.”
After Sunday’s race, Ambrose now has three top-10s and two top-five finishes and has moved up two spots in the points to 20th.
Under the Spotlight: Marcos Ambrose Proves He Can Hold His Own on Ovals Under the Spotlight: Marcos Ambrose Proves He Can Hold His Own on Ovals Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 Rating: 5