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Ambrose still looking for elusive first oval win

Marcos Ambrose came close to having his 2011 season disappear without trace, but now things are back on track with an impressive 3rd at Dover and a chance of a wild card into the Chase.
When people refer to Marcos Ambrose as a "road specialist", they invariably mean it as a compliment. But that doesn't stop it irking the Australian NASCAR Sprint Cup driver just a little, every time.

That's because he wants to win on every type of race course, and to be known as a NASCAR race winner regardless of the type of circuit. While he hasn't managed to crack NASCAR's oval secrets quite yet he's coming increasingly close to doing so - as his third place at the tricky Dover International Speedway at the weekend demonstrated.

"I had a really fast car today," said Ambrose on Sunday, after driving the #9 car to third place at the Monster Mile for the Richard Petty Motorsports team, equalling his career best oval finish in the series. "My best performance for them and a career best for this program. I am really excited about the rest of the season."

Ambrose put himself among the leaders with a two-tyre call at the final pit stop, the same strategy that race winner Matt Kenseth opted for. Despite having fresher rubber than the #5 of Mark Martin - who opted not to pit at all - Ambrose didn't have the pace to take the second position from the wily old NASCAR veteran and instead had to concentrate on stopping Kyle Busch storming past him for third.

"It was a great day and a really good call for two tyres there at the end," Marcos said after the race. "I had a fast car today and we just lost a little track position. I thought I had something for 'em but the downforce went away and I wore my front tyres out."

The concrete surface seems to suit Ambrose better than the asphalt ovals, but don't dare suggest that this is because of his road racing heritage.

"I get good feel on these concrete tracks," explains the 34-year-old Australian. "When I'm having a bad day [on asphalt], I have trouble feeling each tyre. It feels like the whole car is slipping around, [whereas] on concrete, I think it's the steeper banking, there's more vertical load. I think it just helps me feel the tyres a little better."

Although the tyre call was essential to vaulting him past the likes of Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson towards the end (after the trio had dominated most of the race), it was no fluke that Ambrose was in a position to be able to take advantage of the opportunity when it arose. He'd started in 18th position (under NASCAR's new system which uses practice session times to set grid position in the event qualifying is washed out) and was into the top ten by the time the scheduled competition caution came out on lap 41, and was rarely absent from the top positions for the remainder of the 400 lap race.

The third place finish, coming on the back of a good 13th place finish at Darlington the previous week, means that for the first time this season Ambrose is starting to show some consistency week-on-week after false starts at Las Vegas (where he finished fourth) and Texas (sixth) but couldn't follow-through either time in the next race.




Related Pictures

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Marcos Ambrose in the RPM garage - 2011 Las Vegas - 3 May 2011 [Picture credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Marcos Ambrose in the RPM garage - 2011 Daytona - 22 January 2011 [Picture credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Marcos Ambrose, Richard Petty Motorsports - 2011 Season [Picture credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in ninth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, leads Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Great Lakes Flooring/Menards Toyota, during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Great Lakes Flooring/Menards Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 JEGS Toyota, race during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 race, at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 Nationwide Children`s Hospital Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 15, 2015 in Lexington, Ohio. (Picture Credit: Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at New Hampshire on July 7, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Chicago on July 18, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway on 30 May 2015. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

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Motojunky..

May 20, 2011 11:53 PM

Thanks CRASH for this career update on Marcos. I watch as many races as I am able to, but am sad to say he is not part of the NASCAR family yet, and may never be. I make this summary because every time I watch a race the commentry team, they do the minimal amount of coverage on Ambrose. Even when running in the top 10 you would hardly know he was there if you relied on the commentators. Keep chipping away though, cause he has the talent. .



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