Top 10 NASCAR Driver of the Year 2012: 7. Marcos Ambrose

Birthdate: September 1, 1976 Hometown: Launceston, Australia Team: Richard Petty Motorsports Crew chief: Todd Parrott 2012 starts: 36 Poles: 2 Wins: 1 Top 5: 3 Top 10: 8 Annual earnings: $4,767,870 Championship points: 950 Championship position: 18th NASCAR Driver of 2011 position: 7th

We were pretty certain that Marcos Ambrose would feature somewhere in the top ten, and here he is - repeating his achievement of claiming seventh place in the Driver of the Year vote. While American fans of NASCAR flock to Dale Earnhardt Jr., for international fans there's no one to compare with the popularity of the likeable Australian.

2012 saw him claim his first pole position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series and best of all it was an an oval - the former V8 Supercars star is determined to prove that he's an all-rounder and not just a road course specialist or 'ringer' anymore. He didn't quite manage to win an oval race this season, but he did visit victory lane at Watkins Glen and also took pole at another road course (Sonoma) in what has been a solid year for him.

Confirmed as staying at Richard Petty Motorsports, his target for 2013 must be not only that first oval win, but also a berth in next year's Chase. If he can manage either - let alone both - he should do even better in next year's Driver of the Year vote!

Top 10 NASCAR Driver of the Year 2012 results so far:

7. Marcos Ambrose 8. Martin Truex Jr. 9. Jeff Gordon 10. Greg Biffle