Monday, 20 August 2012
Marcos Ambrose on Sunday hit form in the run to the NASCAR Sprint Cup, backing up his Watkins Glen victory with a fifth place finish in his Stanley Ford Fusion at Michigan International Speedway.
A frontrunner throughout the 400-mile race on the two-mile long super speedway, the Australian secured his third straight top-10 finish.
With three races before the cut-off for the Chase to the Sprint Cup, Ambrose needs to win in Bristol, Atlanta or Richmond to secure his place in NASCAR's playoffs.
"After you come off a win, sometimes it's a struggle to keep that mojo going," Ambrose said.
"We had a fast car all day long, got track position late and really made the most of it.
"We've got to look back and rewind the race - we were holding off (Greg) Biffle with 25-30 laps to go and he won.
"I'm proud of my guys for carrying that momentum through. It's great to run top five, but winning's what it's all about for us right now," Ambrose said.
Starting from eighth position, Ambrose struggled in the opening laps after being forced into the grey part of the track and falling back to 19th.
The opening caution flashed on lap five when David Gilliland spun, with Ambrose staying on track to make his first stop under green flag conditions.
Ambrose worked his way up to 16th position by lap 53 of 200. On lap 65, a second caution slowed the field when race leader Mark Martin made brutal contact with the pit wall.
Acing the restart, Ambrose jumped to 11th place one corner after the green flag, before tangling with Regan Smith at turn three.
Undamaged in the accident, Ambrose restarted from 12th.
Following some wild three-wide racing, Ambrose once again sat in 11th when Joey Logano slapped the wall, bringing out a yellow on lap 89.
After Kurt Busch met the concrete wall in turns three and four, Ambrose stayed on track under the yellow to restart from eighth.
Juan Montoya brought out the next caution when he suffered a flat tyre, with Ambrose restarting sixth.
Trevor Bayne was the next to slow the field with 20 laps to go. Race leader Jimmie Johnson then blew his engine within sight of the finish line, setting up a green-white chequered flag finish.
Ambrose nailed the restart, and advanced to fifth spot, behind Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jnr.
Next Saturday night, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues with one of the highlight events of the season, the Bristol night race.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings (after 23 of 36 races):
1. Greg Biffle (Ford) - 823 points
2. Matt Kenseth (Ford) - 803
3. Dale Earnhardt Jnr (Chevrolet) - 801
4. Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet)- 795
5. Brad Keselowski (Dodge)- 776
17. Marcos Ambrose (Ford) - 639