Among the feel-good stories from the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway this past Sunday was the 14th-place finish of Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry fielded by JTG-Daugherty Racing.
Ambrose, who truly is a rookie despite being ineligible for the freshman honors in 2009 for running in 11 events last season, has been impressive the past two weeks with finishes of 10th and 14th.
Those solid finishes have boosted the 32-year-old Launceston, Tasmania native to a 21st-place spot in the standings, just 98 points from the top 10.
With the exception of an engine-failure DNF at Atlanta that saw the No. 47 team finish in 38th place, JTG-Daugherty Racing has run competitively in each event this season, with finishes of 17th, 22nd, 20th, 10th, and 14th.
For a driver that has not competed at most of these tracks, international ace Ambrose has displayed some remarkable adaptability with the Car of Tomorrow as well as the close competition that defines the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Still, Ambrose cannot wait to do some superspeedway racing.
"I'm kind of over this over this short-track stuff," Ambrose said in his team's PR report posted on Motorsport.com. "Let's go back to a normal speedway."
Still, Ambrose knows that his solid season has only been possible through hard work, consistent weekly improvement between driver and crew chief Frank Kerr (not related to Jim Kerr of Simple Minds, 80's music buffs), and his constantly working crew at the shop.
"They give me awesome cars, and we just keep getting better," Ambrose added. "I also have to thank all the guys at Michael Waltrip Racing who help us with our partnership back at the shop.
We're reliable, we're fast, and it's just been a lot of fun."
Though Clint Bowyer most frequently gets called the "most underrated NASCAR driver" amongst the superstars of the sport, Marcos may gain some attention from the media and fans for both the way he talks and the way he drives.
Ambrose finished in the top 10 in points last season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and had a memorable first career victory at the road course in Watkins Glen, New York.
He also competed in the Cup race on Sunday and finished in the fourth spot while driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
Within striking distance of 10th-place Kevin Harvick, Ambrose's wish for normal speedway racing will come true in Adrenaline April.
He has shown the ability to race well at the plate tracks, as evidenced by his 17th-place finish at Daytona. And with some more practice on the 1.5 mile tri-ovals, Ambrose will adjust to the intermediate tracks.
As the movers and shakers of the Chasers become clear this spring, don't be surprised if that No. 47 Toyota has some say in who makes it in and who looks forward to 2010.
Ambrose & Co. might just stick around till the end and be a surprise among the usual suspects in NASCAR.
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