Nascar punt pays off

The switch to Nascar suits Mar­cos Am­brose, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

MAR­COS Am­brose has plenty to cel­e­brate this week. He has just bounced off the most suc­cess­ful week­end since he rolled the dice with his Nascar gam­ble, tak­ing a win and a sec­ond place in the tough­est tin-top se­ries in the world.

The trans­planted V8 Su­per­car cham­pion was al­ways ex­pected to go well at the Watkins Glen cir­cuit in New York State be­cause it’s the clos­est thing in Nascar to the tracks where he cut his racing teeth.

Am­brose re­turned to Watkins Glen as the de­fend­ing cham­pion in the sec­ond-tier Na­tion­wide se­ries af­ter winning in 2008.

But he still had to get the job done, and he did it in style— winning in the Na­tion­wide car and tak­ing sec­ond against the Nascar aces in the Sprint Cup fea­ture race on Mon­day.

‘‘I can’t wait to have a shower and lie down. I’m pretty whipped,’’ Am­brose con­fesses af­ter his sec­ond place to Tony Ste­wart, a for­mer se­ries cham­pion who also has Watkins Glen wired af­ter four pre­vi­ous wins.

Am­brose had plenty of chal­lenges dur­ing the week­end, not least the need to switch be­tween two very dif­fer­ent cars. And his Na­tion­wide drive was a late one-off deal, with a racer well down on power, even though he dom­i­nated the race af­ter start­ing sec­ond.

‘‘We’re not here to come sec­ond, we’re here to win, and I had that mind­set all week­end,’’ Am­brose says.

He pulled a bril­liant pass on Kyle Busch, one of the hard men of Nascar, to claim his victory and clearly en­joyed the bat­tle.

‘‘Well, I never touched him. I’ve seen Kyle knock guys out for the win,’’ he says.

‘‘You’re racing against one of the best in the busi­ness and the el­e­ment of sur­prise was my tack. I don’t know what he has to com­plain about. I passed him without touch­ing him and we won the race. It doesn’t mat­ter if he was mad at me any­way.’’

Am­brose had a much tougher time in the Sprint Cup stoush. He was hurt by run­ning a strat­egy that was out of phase with the leaders and which ul­ti­mately forced him to run too many laps on worn tyres.

‘‘It was at the first stop. We were third, we stayed out and ev­ery­body pit­ted ex­cept for three cars, then our des­tiny was set. We couldn’t then pit with ev­ery­body else be­cause we were off se­quence so we just had to try and run our own race and have the short­est pit stop we could as soon as we could make it home.’’

Even so, he had the pace to lead and moved up from 19th to sec­ond at the flag.

The Sprint Cup re­sult boosts Am­brose to 17th in the se­ries af­ter 22 starts.

High oc­tane win: Mar­cos Am­brose cel­e­brates his week­end tri­umph at Watkins Glen.

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