Sunday, August 23, 2009

Was this the turning point?

Every driver has one; a race that can be pin-pointed as being the one that moved them from pretender to contender.

The last few months have seen some interesting things written about Marcos Ambrose; the two most intriguing, to me anyway, was the debate on whether Ambrose or David Ragan will be next in line to score their first Cup win and the other being a poll taken yesterday during the race on yahoo if Tony Stewart or Marcos was the surprise of the year.

Let's address the first article; will it be the man everyone was raving over at the last third of the 2008 season or will it be the tough-as-nails Aussie who, even when he has a bad day, says how lucky he is to be in NASCAR?

On paper prior to the Daytona 500, it was a no-brainer; Ragan was with the top Ford team while Ambrose was driving for a brand new team that had raced in less Cup races than I have fingers. Indeed, I predicted David to make the Chase while Marcos would be lucky to end up in the top 25...I couldn't have been more wrong if I tried now, could I? *laugh*

Ok, hands up if you had Marcos in with a shot for the Chase this year?

For whatever reason, the #6 UPS Ford Fusion has been struggling for the majority of 2009 while the #47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry has been flying high. It wasn't much of a surprise to anyone that Ambrose would challenge on the road courses of Infineon and Watkins Glen, but the way he has taken to the ovals has raised more than a few eyebrows and dropped even more jaws. He arrived at Bristol in March and, using strategy to get to the front, somehow came away with a top ten even though he drove the last 100 odd laps on six cylinders. He backed that up with great drives at Martinsville, Talladega, Richmond, Daytona and Pocono (ignoring the road courses) before arriving back at Bristol last night.

And boy, did he put on a show.

Starting mid pack, he steadily made his way towards the front, content with following in Jimmie Johnson's wake. Ambrose's charge didn't halt when he got to the top ten either as he brushed aside Chase contenders Juan Montoya, Greg Biffle and David Reutimann, then had the audacity to come on the radio and say "Jimmie who?" when Johnson let him through - yes, the three-time Champ let this rookie go, that's how good the #47 was at that stage of the race - and just to add a cherry on top of his cake, passed Kyle Busch around the outside for third...all before we reached half distance. Over a long run, I doubt there was a car quicker than his, even Mark Martin would have had trouble keeping pace with Ambrose.

Marcos proved that the March race was no fluke.

Unlike in March, Ambrose kept all eight cylinders to the end and, in his best race of his NASCAR career so far, he wound up a career-oval-best third and his stock rose some more notches. While his 2010 semi-teammate, Martin Truex Jr, had a strong run going until blowing a tyre, he must have been grinning from ear-to-ear inside his helmet with the way all the MWR cars were running. This has been a breakthrough year for MWR with Reutimann getting their first win and still a mathematical chance of making the Chase but it's been Ambrose who has been the star in my mind.

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot about the poll. The end result went in Tony's favour as I expected...but only just; 52% plays 48%.

I think it's easily safe to say that Marcos Ambrose has arrived. He's no longer a road-ringer, but a fully-fledged NASCAR driver and I do believe he'll get that first win before David Ragan does. If he can escape the pesky 'sophomore slump' that has struck a few drivers in the past, he could very well find himself in the Chase for 2010...complete with bonus points for winning a race or two.

And if that is the case, it can be traced back to that one hot August night in Bristol; the race Marcos Ambrose cemented his place in the Cup series.


  1. TEZ,



  2. I left a repile somewhere maybe on the race chatt blog about when you said you would hurt someone if they said Ambrose Well his pit crew is close. They lost him 3 spots on one pit stop I know of and where did he end up 3rd. I also said all he needed was 4 top fives races and he could make the chase.

    I must have jinxed him last week for saying that but this week not. Hey who knows points wise 2 wins and most laps is 195x2 = 390 he is in of course he needs the same 6 drivers to have very bad days and at Atlanta 6 cars vcan go out all at

    He has showed he belongs.. Did you catch the F1 race Rubens Barrichello winning for him self and Felipe Massa with his flag on his helmit. Touch of class all around.


  3. Tez, great post. I have him making the Chase next season. He has continued to impress me as the season goes along. A LOT of guys (Kevin Harvick in particular) can learn from Marcos' attitude.

  4. Tez:

    Oh yee of little faith in your country man. Ambrose is getting mighty tough in the competition department. It is just a matter of time for his cup win takes place on a roundy.

  5. I've still got a big grin on my face and have been watching Ambrose videos on youtube most of the day, lol

  6. He proved to everyone at Bristol, that he is a hell of a driver! And you have to love the guy's attitude. Always upbeat and smiling no matter what.

    I'm on the wagon before it gets too crowded. lol

  7. Yes, I am still laughing about your early prediction concerning Marcos this year.

    I doubt anyone would have guessed otherwise, and I am glad he is hanging tough.

    That was a funny comment about Jimmie Johnson.... really got a chuckle from that Sat. night.

    Here's to Marcos and his very near big W.


  8. Well we've got "The Show", "The Franchise" and now I think you can make a good play for "The Real Deal".

    I am on the bandwagon too!! =) Course didnt think he would make a play for the Chase this soon but no doubts he can drive...and who can turn down the humble fun personality!

    Go Aussie!!

  9. nice write Tez. I wouldn't have figured Ambrose for a Chase contender early, but I guess he had us all fooled. Luckily, I got on the bandwagon last year, when they had those "kangeroo meat" commercials with Harvick.

    The only problem is that my favorite drivers don't have cool enough sponsors. M & M's, Clorox, Aarons. I mean come on...

  10. I concur, stork....the only funky livery Marcos has is the Kingsford one. I was on his wagon after 2006 when he said his expectations were low (I was worried he'd expect too much too early) and am hoping he can make it 2 wins from 2 starts in the NW series this weekend at Montreal :D

    and it's not nice to laugh at my's deserved, but not nice, LOLOL!