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Ambrose takes podium in Nascar truck

 

Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose has produced another fantastic third-place finish in today's 16th round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the all-concrete Nashville track in Tennessee.

Team Australia's Marcos Ambrose has produced another fantastic third-place finish in today's 16th round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the all-concrete Nashville track in Tennessee.

Ambrose qualified 11th earlier in the day and only briefly ran outside of the top 10 for the entire race in a performance which has again shown that he his starting to come to grips with oval racing in the US.

The former two-time Australian V8 Supercar champion collected his first top three finish in Kansas last month and a week later collected his first pole at Kentucky.

After struggling a little the last couple of weeks on some of the championship's tougher short tracks, Ambrose bounced back on the fast 1.3-mile (2.08km) Nashville track.

By lap 37 he was in second place in this Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150 and he then moved into the lead on lap 63 after race leader Ron Hornaday Jr cut a tyre.

On lap 73 he led the field by 4.7 seconds, but a yellow flag caution period resulted after debris was spotted in turn one.

Ambrose traded places with the top six drivers over the last third of the race and was lucky to avoid fourth-placed Rick Crawford when he hit the fence hard six laps from home.

The incident brought out a track record-equalling ninth caution flag for the race.

With a two-lap dash to the chequered flag, Ambrose sat in fifth.

Johnny Benson took advantage of a heated battle between Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine in the final two laps to win.

Second-placed Bodine made contact with leader Skinner to take the lead. Skinner retaliated on the final lap, spinning both out of contention and allowing Johnny Benson to squeeze through for the win.

Jack Sprague followed through for second and Ambrose raced him to the line for third and to again be the leading Ford finisher and rookie.

Ambrose actually got in front of Sprague down the back straight on the final lap, but did not have the momentum to make the complete pass and was forced to settle with third.

Bodine eventually finished eighth, while Skinner crashed at turn three and was eventually ruled 17th.

Today's result jumped Ambrose from 30th to 26th in the championship and lifted his season earnings to $US155,813.

Ambrose now heads to Bristol Motor Speedway in 10 days time.

"I love NASCAR, what a great sport! What great racing, that's why I came 13,000 miles. I just love racing these trucks," said Ambrose.

"I have a fantastic team, they give me a great truck week in, week out. It's great to give something back to them.

"I knew that we had a better truck on the long run. We're just trying to be conservative on our setups and let me get the experience.

"I knew I was looking out for my front-right tyre because I could see other guys really getting tight and they were coming back to us, and then the cautions came and that's what we needed. I knew it was going to be on.

"You're never going to get Skinner and Sprague and Bodine together on a green-white-checkered and not have some kind of carnage out there.

"I knew the only way I was going to get around them was to get to the bottom and stay there and hope they were going to spatter the race track, and that's exactly what happened.

"Third for us is as good as a win; that's just a great day. We were top Ford and top rookie. I led a lot of laps and it's just been a great experience.

"It's great to give everyone involved with the Team Australia program a result like this. I think this proves that our first podium result was not an accident and that with some momentum we could push for a race win by the end of the season."

Brett Murray


Auto Trader New Zealand