10 April 2011
Marcos Ambrose produced one of his best ever oval track efforts by finishing sixth in the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in the latest round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
After running well within the top-ten all race long, Ambrose was placed inside the top three heading into the second half of the race, but the Richard Petty Motorsports Stanley Ford Fusion didn't have the speed to challenge at the finish.
The result was Ambrose's second top-ten finish on mile-and-a-half ovals this season.
"I'm very proud of the Stanley boys for putting together this result, we're starting to really click on these intermediate ovals," Marcos Ambrose said.
"It's great to be running out in the front of the pack, and it gives us a lot of confidence moving forward.
"Sadly we didn't quite have the package together in that last run to challenge for the win, so we'll learn from that.
"Talladega next week is another challenge all together, I can't wait to get there."
After qualifying strongly in seventh position, Ambrose made a solid start to jump up to fifth place with one of the fastest cars on the track in the early running.
The opening exchanges were interrupted by a caution for Tony Raines' smoking machine, with Ambrose restarting the race from seventh on lap 15 of 334.
Ambrose continued to run strongly inside the top-ten until the second caution appeared on lap 45 when David Gilliland hit the wall.
After a four tyre pit stop, Ambrose resumed racing in eighth position, battling hard with Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, with the Australian eventually getting the upper hand on both, claiming seventh place from Busch.
The Stanley Ford Fusion then went on a charge, making it past Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch for fifth, before pitting under green flag conditions from third position.
Ken Schrader blew a tyre on lap 113 bringing out the third caution for the race, which allowed Ambrose to pit for four tyres, re-emerging in ninth after some other competitors only stopped for two new tyres.
Ambrose made some solid progress up to seventh, prior to an extended period of green flag running which saw two stops.
Just after the second stop, the yellow flashed on for debris on lap 208, with Ambrose staying out, restarting the race from fourth position.
The gained track position proved valuable when a pile up involving Martin Truex Jnr, Regan Smith and Mark Martin interrupted proceedings while Ambrose challenged for the lead.
Ambrose ran strongly in third place for much of the next stint, before leading a lap during the penultimate round of green flag stops.
With the fastest car on the track, Ambrose battled hard with Carl Edwards, picking up fourth position with 61 laps to go.
The final green flag stop for the team happened on lap 295, dropping Ambrose down to seventh, with several cars ahead on the track rolling the dice with fuel consumption.
Ambrose fought valiantly to the finish, making it past an out-of-fuel Tony Stewart on the last lap while edging out the pole sitter David Ragan by only a car length.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves up a gear next weekend, with the running of the Aaron's 499 from the longest super speedway in the world at Talladega.
Voting Now Open for Sprint All-Star Race
Marcos Ambrose's next big challenge is to gain a starting spot in the Sprint All-Star Race, which is scheduled for the 21st of May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The non-points paying race with a one million dollar prize purse for the winner is an invitation only event, closed to Sprint Cup race winners from the 2010-11 season, former series champions and All-Star Race winners from the past 10 years.
Ambrose can gain a start in the race by either winning one of the four regular season races before the All-Star Race, finish in the top-two in the qualifying Sprint Shootout race, or win the popular fan vote, which is now open at www.nascar.com/promos/allstar/2011/vote/.
Fans are allowed to vote once an hour until polling closes.