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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]
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Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, and his team celebrate by kissing the bricks after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, stands on the grid with Haley Carey prior to the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, celebrates with brother and Sprint Cup driver Austin Dillon after Ty won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Nationwide Series car driven by Ty Dillon. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ty Dillon with his team owner and grandfaster Richard Childress at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7 2014. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents, the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Chase Elliott, drive driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinios.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series EnjoyIllinois.com 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway on July 19, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via 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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