Richard Petty Motorsports' Marcos Ambrose celebrates w/crew chief Todd Parrott and crew after winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen this past Monday.....
Several years ago, V8 Supercar star Marcos Ambrose left the land Down Under and traveled across the ocean blue to the land of NASCAR to ply his trade.........6+ years later, the Tasmanian Devil notched his first Sprint Cup Series win, winning on the road course at Watkins Glen. Quoting Speed Channel's Mike Hembree...........
Marcos Ambrose, a superstar driver in his home country of Australia, left behind a solid career and the backing of Ford there to move to the United States and take a shot at NASCAR racing.
Moving his family across the ocean after winning the Australian V8 Supercar championship in 2003 and 2004, Ambrose took a big chance that he could make racing on a higher level work.
On Monday at Watkins Glen International, he finally put a period on that long story.
Ambrose moved around Brad Keselowski on the next-to-last lap to take the lead and won the Heluva Good at The Glen when the event finished under caution. It was his first Cup win in 105 races and made him the fifth first-time winner this season.
Ambrose moved into the Cup series in 2008 and had done well on the circuit’s road courses, but the breakthrough win had eluded him.
“It’s just a dream day,” said Ambrose, a 34-year-old native of Launceston in Tasmania. “The sacrifices you make, we all make, to get here and to be a contender in the Cup series – finally to get to victory lane is a dream come true.
“I came halfway around the world and drug my kids and wife with me. I kept telling them I was good, but until you can win in the Cup series you can’t put that stamp on it.”
Ambrose had planned to accompany his daughter to her first day of school Monday but instead was in the Watkins Glen victory lane after Sunday’s rainout. “I’m sure she’s still cranky at me,” he said.
The win was a major boost for the Richard Petty Motorsports team, which went through financial turmoil last year before putting its house in order. Ambrose dedicated the win to Lynda Petty, Richard Petty’s wife. She has been battling illness.
“This time last year, I didn’t know what I was going to be doing,” Ambrose said. “I’ve been on a rollercoaster with the whole Petty team as it went through the changes at the end of last year. I think this might open the box for me to get a few more.”
He admitted that “the word choke was starting to creep into the back of my mind.”
The victory put Ambrose, now 22nd in points, into the discussion on the two wild-card spots for the Chase. Another win and a move into the top 20 would make Ambrose a definite candidate.
“I don’t know about the points,” he said. “I don’t really give a hoot about it. We’ve just got to win races.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 29 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.