Marcos Ambrose: The Long Road From Down Under

Daniel LamCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2008

With the increasing popularity of NASCAR, many drivers have come over to try their luck over in the big heavy and powerful cars of NASCAR. Marcos Ambrose was one of them, the highly popular Aussie made his way going through the ranks of NASCAR racing finally getting a run in Cup racing this year.

Unlike many converts to come to NASCAR, Marcos Ambrose has Fought his way through the ranks of NASCAR to get to the top level. Starting in 2006, he has impressed many with his skill on not only his familiar road courses but on ovals aswell.

2005: Coming from Australia, Ambrose won two Australian V8 supercar championships before jumping into the world of NASCAR at the end of 2005. The 2003 and 2004 V8 Supercar champion announced his plans in Melbourne at the 2005 Australian Formula One Grand Prix in a shock to the whole Australian motorsport community whilsts the V8's were a support category to the Formula One.

2006: With the help from Ford Australia, Marcos managed to secure a ride with then Wood Brothers/JTG Racing in the No. 20 Team Australia Ford F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series. Ambrose finished the season in 21st, after 22 races (missing the first two of the season) with two top fives and one pole. This performance propelled Ambrose up the ranks to the Busch Series.

2007: In 2007, Marcos stepped up to the then know Busch series in the No. 59 Kingsford Ford Fushion with Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. Ambrose Ran consistently throughout the season, almost winning at Montreal, until the infamous incident involving Robby Gordon. This brought much publicity to Both driver and team.

He scored his best results in Memphis near the end of the season, with a pole and finishing third, his best result on an oval to date. Ambrose eventually finished a solid 8th in final season standings and second in the Rookie of The Year Standing, finishing behind fellow Ford driver, David Ragen. Ambrose was rewarded for his strong showing in his rookie season, being voted 2007 Australian Driver of the Year by Auto Action magazine. 

2008 Part I: 2008 has turned out to be a difficult but rewarding season for the Australian. After a dismal start of the season, with Walter Giles (also an Australian) as crew chief, Gary Cogswell took the helm of the No. 59 Kingsford ford following a 6 dismal races. With Cogswell onboard, Ambrose managed to score his best result to that point with a second at Mexico City behind Kyle Busch.

Followed by a string of solid results, two consecutive road courses were on the schedule, an opportunity to catch up on points. At a wet Montreal, Ambrose starred in the wet conditions (the first time NASCAR has run a race under wet conditions) leading most of the race, before He pitted and was penalised for speeding on pit road.

This was the second year in a row he was robbed of victory, but this didn't put him down, with a magnificent win at Watkins Glen.This result propeled Ambrose up into the top 10 standings. With six races remaining, Ambrose is 10th in current standings, only 43 points behind eighth place Mike Wallace.

2008 Part II: In 2008, Ambrose also made his Sprint Cup debut. Scheduled to run eight races for Wood Brothers Racing and four for JTG Daugherty Racing all races having Little Debbie as a sponsor. Marcos made his long awaited debut at Infineon Raceway one the the seasons two road courses.

Having Qualified a solid seventh, and topping practice first, Ambrose reveled in the new environment before being taken out by Elliot Sadler. The following week, he made a hero to zero story, failing to qualify at the Loudon race, being 44th in qualifying speed out of the 43 race spots.

Ambrose returned the cockpit of a cup car later at Indianapolis, qualifying the No. 47 car for JTG Daugherty Racing, finishing a great 22nd. Several weeks later, Marcos drove to third at Watkins Glen a day after winning the Nationwide race. Starting from the rear of the field, Ambrose worked his way to third and get some valuable points for the struggling Wood Brothers Raciing team.

Marcos has since qualified on a total of five Sprint cup events on ovals, with a best oval finish of 22nd at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

What the Future Holds: Though Marcos has shown his worth as a road course specialist, he has yet to prove his ability on ovals. I'm sure many can agree he has a lot more to improve, but he is a character of the sport, if anything NASCAR needs more drivers that have the personality of Marcos.

With JTG Daugherty Racing moving to Cup Racing fulltime with Marcos next year, it would seem a challenge to stay in the top 35 of owner points in my mind. But with improvements, and a good team, Marcos may be a Chase contender in years to come