O’Reilly Challenge, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
30 October 2008
Two different teams, two different cars, two different series and two completely different goals – that’s what lies ahead of Australian NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas this weekend.
Ambrose will pilot the #59 Kingsford Tailgate Ford Fusion of JTG Daugherty Racing in the O’Reilly Challenge at the fast 1.5-mile speedway as he continues his push to earn a top 10 series finish for the second-consecutive season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
At the same time, Ambrose is attempting to push the #47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry of Michael Waltrip Racing into the top 35 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner’s points. In Sprint Cup competition, where Ambrose has eight previous starts, the top 35 cars in the owner’s points are guaranteed a start in each race, meaning that Ambrose will have to qualify on speed at Texas this weekend for the Dickies 500.
In Nationwide Series competition Ambrose has three starts at Texas, with a career-best finish of 18th earlier this year. He has posted one win (Watkins Glen), three top fives and five top 10s in 32 starts in 2008.
Meanwhile, this weekend will serve as Ambrose’s Sprint Cup Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway, a venue that saw Michael McDowell, the previous driver of the third MWR Sprint Cup entry, survive an enormous crash in qualifying earlier this year.
Ambrose will also join fellow NASCAR stars Jamie McMurray, David Ragan, Jason Keller and former champion Rusty Wallace in challenging Nationwide Tour golfers JJ Killeen, Matt Weibring and Scott Gutschewski in a charity competition involving golf and racing skills on Saturday morning.
Drivers and golfers will team with members of the media in a closest-to-the-pin chipping competition and NASCAR racing simulator competition
Nationwide Insurance is naming-rights sponsor of both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Nationwide Tour, the second-tier competition to the US PGA Tour. The Nationwide Tour golfers are in Texas to prepare for the Nationwide Tour Championship, which will take place November 6-9 at the TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.
QUOTES - MARCOS AMBROSE
“Texas is a track I like because it is fast, really smooth and has a lot of grip,” said Ambrose.
“This will be my first time racing a Cup car at Texas. It is a fast learning process for me right now. I’m discovering what I need from the car, realising what I need for the race and learning the guys as they address what I need.
“I am glad I had the opportunity to gain some experience at Texas in other series before attempting to qualify the #47 this weekend, because it’s certainly a fast, tough, ‘take no prisoners’ type of track.
“The Nationwide race on Saturday, and the extra track time that comes with that, will hopefully help my learning curve as well.
“We are looking to build on the weekend we just had at Atlanta and improve upon that.
“We want to leave Texas with a strong finish. We have got a good team in place and we are taking a brand new car and I feel like we are more than capable to finish well.
“This weekend our focus is doing our best at an intermediate track. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is so different from any other division. The races are lengthier and there is such a level of intensity. If you lose track position, it’s very hard to get it back.
“It’s a big challenge to compete in two different series at the same time, especially when you’re driving cars that are so different.
“There’s a huge difference between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars. You always benefit from track time, but they react differently to adjustments, they have different ranges of power and they don’t drive the same because they have different levels of downforce.
“But as a driver, when you jump from one car to the other, it only takes a lap or two to get adjusted.
“We want to finish strong in the Kingsford car this season. We’re not satisfied with just being 10th in the Nationwide standings; we want to see if we can move up to eighth or ninth. Nothing we’re doing on the Cup side will distract us from trying to make that happen.”