Marcos Ambrose and Team Australia have had yet another huge day in their short history in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the Kentucky Speedway in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky today.
After qualifying on pole and leading the first 33 laps of the race, Ambrose finished in 19th place in the Aussie Vineyards No. 20 Ford F-150 truck. Ambrose led the most laps of any driver in the race with 49 laps led, earning 10 bonus points.
The strong result elevated Ambrose a further spot in the championship standings to 29th. Ambrose was also the fifth rookie home in the Built Ford Tough 225.
Starting from pole Ambrose led the field away, streaking away to build a comfortable lead, which he held for 33 consecutive laps. Brendan Gaughan briefly took the lead, only to see Ambrose regain the lead and take his laps led tally to 49 before making his first pit stop.
Stopping later than most put Ambrose on a different pit sequence to most of the field, putting the Aussie Vineyards truck back in the pack. Ambrose's truck did not handle as well while running in the disturbed 'dirty' air of the pack and found it hard to come back to the front of the field.
Ambrose made his second stop under green flag conditions and when a caution period was called roughly three laps later, Ambrose was caught behind the pace car and went a lap down. Ambrose's progress was also halted when Mexico's Michel Jourdain Jr spun in front of the Australian in Turn 4. Ambrose had to take to the grass infield to miss Jourdain's wreck and the Aussie Vineyards car needed a further pit stop to clear the grass and dirt from the front grill.
In 21st position at the final restart, Ambrose made two positions in the final sprint to the finish to claim 19th one lap down. The finish, Ambrose's third best from his 10 starts so far, earned the Tasmanian 116 points towards his championship, as well as five bonus points for leading a lap and a further five for leading the most laps of the race.
Marcos Ambrose - No. 20 Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards F-150
"We led a lot of laps today and got the pole, but it was just one of those rookie things in the race," said Ambrose. "We set the car up in practice running in clean air and the car was very fast and the start of the race. But the way the car behaves just changes so much in traffic and we had a few moments today once we were in the pack. Now we have to balance the car to run in traffic."
"We didn't stop early with a lot of the front guys and that put us off their pit sequence. It meant we had to pit under green and the caution came out three laps later which out us a lap down."
"We definitely showed them we are in town today and we leave here with a better reputation than when we arrived. We just didn't quite have it all come together in the race today, but we showed we were fast by leading all those laps at the start and pulling away from the pack. We had another car (Michel Jourdain Jr) spin in front of us and had to go through the grass to avoid it. It filled the front grill with grass and we had to come in the pits to clear it out and that sent out to the back of the longest line."
"I'm definitely proud of what we achieved this weekend. We got that pole, led those laps and we are getting noticed. We will go back to the shop now and work towards next weekend and try our best next weekend in Memphis."
Ambrose on his pole position in Kentucky: "It's just great for the guys and great for the team," said Ambrose. "I've got so many people to thank for getting me over here. Ford Australia and Tom Gorman (President of Ford Australia), and Dan Davis from Ford of America in the racing department to drag me halfway across the world. The team bosses, the Wood Brothers and Tad Geschickter, I just want to thank them for giving me the chance to compete on the ovals over here."
"I've got some great equipment and a fantastic team behind me. They're making me look better than I could have possibly hoped for in my rookie year. We're just trying to get me used to oval racing, and to get a pole so early in my NASCAR career is more than I expected."
Craig Gore - Team Australia
"Marcos was a bit unlucky in the race but was very fast today and put a lot of people on notice," said Gore. "I and the whole Team Australia organisation are very proud of Marcos and the team are achieving. This was another great day in the history of Team Australia. It probably could have been better with a bit more luck during the race."
"Despite the race result there is plenty to smile about and I am confident that the fantastic form that Marcos is showing is not a one-off."
Facts on Ambrose's Pole in Kentucky
- This is Marcos Ambrose's first Budweiser Pole in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
- This is the first time a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate has won the pole since November 2004 when David Reutimann captured the No. 1 starting position at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
- Ambrose's best previous start was second last month at Michigan International Speedway.
- Ambrose is the first foreign-born driver to win a series pole since June 26, 1999 when Ron Fellows of Canada qualified first at Watkins Glen International.
- This is the first pole for the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing team and the first pole for crew chief Gary Cogswell.
- Ambrose has now qualified in the top 10 for five of this 10 NASCAR starts to date
Marcos Ambrose Fast Facts
- Ambrose has earned $114,608 in 10 starts this year
- Born in Launceston, Tasmania
- Ambrose won two consecutive V8 Supercar Series Championships in Australia in 2003 and 2004 for Ford
- Will drive the No. 20 Ford F-150 for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing in 2006
- Achieved the best finish for a rookie this year when he finished third at Kansas Speedway on July 1 in only his ninth NASCAR event
- Became the first Australian to lead laps in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
- Is the first non-American driver to finish in the top five of a truck series event since Canadian Ron Fellows won on the Watkins Glen road course on June 26, 1999
Ambrose Is Getting Noticed
- Truck Series veteran and former series Rookie of the Year Brendan Gaughan finished third in Kentucky and made mention of Ambrose in his post-race comments. Gaughan ran second in the early stages of the race, behind Ambrose: "Man, I don't know what happened to the #20 (Ambrose) with all those cautions and everything, but man that kid was flying!" said Gaughan.