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Monday, August 10, 2009

If the rain ever stops, Ambrose will earn first Cup win at the Glen

Some drivers are from down South … but Marcos Ambrose has them all beat.

He’s from waaaay down South, Tasmania to be exact, and was viewed mostly as a curiosity when arriving on the NASCAR scene a couple years ago … good on road courses, as that was his background, but nobody expected him to be a true competitor in the Cup series anytime soon.

But the numbers don’t lie. This year, his first full year in the Cup series, he has 2 top-5 finishes and 5 top-10 finishes. He sits 18th in points, only 60 points behind veteran Jeff Burton and ahead of other long-established drivers such as Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Most significant is that he is doing so well while driving for JTG Daugherty Racing. This is a smaller team that is affiliated with Michael Waltrip Racing, but is nowhere near the level of Hendrick Motorsports or Richard Childress Racing.

But having a talented driver like Ambrose can take a team a long way, and this year has proved Ambrose is more than just a road couse specialist. In the spring, he went to Bristol for the first time and pulled out a 10th place finish. Most people don’t do quite so well on their first visit to Thunder Valley. He also has top 10s at both of the restrictor plate tracks, something that is hard to do for veteran NASCAR drivers.

This week, if they ever get a race in at the Glen, there is no doubt in my mind that Ambrose is the favorite to win. He showed Saturday in a dominating performance that nobody, not even Kyle Busch, could prevent him from taking the checkered flag in the Nationwide race. A brilliant move took Busch by surprise after he had battled Ambrose for many laps, and he was forced to give up the spot when he couldn’t make the turn at the Glen’s inner loop.

That kind of attitude should be on display Monday in the Cup race, where Ambrose qualified fourth and should be up front before long. No disrespect to polesitter Jimmie Johnson, who is a great driver on all tracks, but tracks like the Glen are the playground of people like Ambrose who have spent most of their careers on road courses. Johnson will put up a fight, but Ambrose should pass him for the lead within 15 laps. From there, pit strategy will determine whether Ambrose can stay up front and claim his first Cup win.

Robby being Robby
He’s been quiet lately, but we got a glimpse Saturday of why so many people love, and hate, Robby Gordon when he ran Joey Logano off the track after a spirited battle on the track got a little too close for comfort. Never one to shy away from controversy, Gordon stuck by his story that the wreck, which ended with Logano hurrying out of a fiery #20 car, was started from a block by Logano.

Logano had another view, saying after the wreck: “You can’t fix stupid. It’s forever. You put that in your memory bank”


Anonymous ray wells (marcos ambrose fan said...

marcos ambrose is a fantastic driver and its about time he got in there and had a go.not just sit back and be the gentleman .its good to see the old marcos coming back to racing now he needs the same grunt in the sprint series and he will be a winner go marcos

August 10, 2009 at 10:29 AM 

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