DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2008) – Aussie Marcos Ambrose has a pair of NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Daytona International Speedway under his belt and is itching to get on track for the season-opening Camping World 300 presented by Chevy on Saturday, Feb. 16.
“This is first race of the season, this is the first repeat,” Ambrose said. “Last year was my very first try. This is my first repeat. I can’t wait to get out there and get amongst it and I feel like we have great shot.”
Ambrose has helped take NASCAR global in Australia. He is a two-time Australian V8 Supercar champion and in his first NASCAR Nationwide Series season in 2007, he finished eighth in points.
Ambrose, who drives the No. 59 Ford for JTG Racing, says come in February, Aussie race fans will keep a keen eye on the activities at Daytona International Speedway, including his event – the Camping World 300 presented by Chevy – as well as the 50th running of the Daytona 500.
“Australian race fans, the majority of them, are fairly casual viewers,” Ambrose said. “They don’t understand the sport but they all know the Daytona 500 and they all know the first race of the year is the biggest. That’s very usual for a sport. All eyes are watching the first race of the year. The Daytona 500 is the one of the premier motorsports race in the world, if not the best.
“I think Daytona is my favorite NASCAR track. It’s got so much history here. When you’re running on the track, you just know the heritage of the place. You know it’s really the birthplace of NASCAR. Just to drive this race track, it’s narrow, it’s bumpy, it’s slippery. You do a plate race, the cars are so close together and there’s always action. I love the Daytona races.”
Ambrose believes the fans are catching on. During the off-season, he was awarded the honor of Australian National Driver of the Year.
“I’m educating the Australian race fan about NASCAR. I won an award there in the off-season that was voted in by the public and they are clearly tuning in.”
Fastest of the day: Cale Gale in the No. 77B Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet was the fastest in the morning session of single-car runs with a speed of 180.679 mph. Erik Darnell was the fastest in the afternoon session with a lap of 184.744 mph.
style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 150%">Rusty hops in: Rusty Wallace, the retired NASCAR champion and current ESPN analyst, returned to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for the first time since 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series testing when he shook down one of his Rusty Wallace Inc. Chevrolets.
Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR champion, has both of his NASCAR Nationwide Series teams in attendance for this week’s test as his drivers David Stremme and son Steve were preparing for the season-opening Camping World 300 presented by Chevy.
Rudy visits: Former New York City Mayor and Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani made a surprise visit during the lunch break of Monday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series testing.
Giuliani, who attended last year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series July race at DIS, took a parade lap around DIS in his campaign bus and then toured the garage area.
“When you’re in the bus, you felt like if you went even halfway up that bank – boom – you would tumble over,” Giuliani said.
During a brief visit with the media in the garage area, Giuliani compared the historic Daytona International Speedway to Yankee Stadium.
“I think because like Yankee Stadium contains a lot of the history of baseball, not just the Yankees, but the history baseball, (Daytona) contains a lot of the history of NASCAR,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani also said NASCAR is a sport that must be witnessed in person.
“This is a sport that I think most people don’t get this sport until they come and see it,” Giuliani said. “In a strange way, it reminds me of hockey. Hockey is a game that when people watch it only on television, they don’t get it. The minute they go to a hockey match, they are hockey fans.
“There’s something about the speed (of NASCAR), the excitement, the risk, tremendous amount of team work. It’s a fabulous sport.”
Final day: Tuesday’s fifth NASCAR Nationwide Series testing day will be the final day of testing at DIS for the month of January.
Tickets: Race tickets for all DIRECTV Speedweeks 2008 events at Daytona International Speedway are available online at href="http://www.racetickets.com/">www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Morning speeds from NASCAR Nationwide Series testing in preparation for the Camping World 300 presented by Chevy:
1. 77B, Cale Gale, Chevrolet, 49.812, 180.679
2. 9A, Chase Miller, Dodge 49.864, 180.491
3. 77A, Cale Gale, Chevrolet, 49.892, 180.390
4. 29B, Scott Wimmer, Chevrolet, 49.972, 180.101
5. 66R, Steve Wallace, Chevrolet, 49.998, 180.007
6. 38A, Jason Leffler, Toyota, 50.016, 179.942
7. 66W, Steve Wallace, Chevrolet, 50.068, 179.756
8. 17A, Erik Darnell, Ford, 50.203, 179.272
9. 29A, Scott Wimmer, Chevrolet, 50.208, 179.254
10. 70B, Mark Green, Chevrolet, 50.253, 179.094
11. 17B, Erik Darnell, Ford, 50.270, 179.033
12..32B, Tony Raines, Toyota, 50.277, 179.008
13. 47A, Kelly Bires, Ford, 50.359, 178.717
14. 64J, David Stremme, Chevrolet, 50.396, 178.586
15. 99A, David Reutimann, Toyota, 50.445, 178.412
16. 32A, Tony Raines, Toyota, 50.469, 178.327
17. 11B, Jason Keller, Chevrolet, 50.506, 178.197
18. 6A, David Ragan, Ford, 50.554, 178.027
19. 11A, Jason Keller, Chevrolet, 50.573, 177.961
20. 59A, Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 50.605, 177.848
21. 9B, Chase Miller, Dodge 50.620, 177.795
22. 38B, Jason Leffler, Toyota, 50.716, 177.459
23. 72A, D.J. Kennington, Chevrolet, 50.828, 177.068
24. 64B, David Stremme, Chevrolet, 50.829, 177.064
25. 6B, David Ragan, Ford, 50.921, 176.744
26. 00A, Michael McDowell, Toyota, 50.958, 176.616
27. 52A, Donnie Neuenberger, Ford, 51.453, 174.917
28. 05B, Brett Rowe, Chevrolet, 51.590, 174.452
29. 05A, Justin Ashburn, Chevrolet, 51.916 173.357
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Afternoon speeds from NASCAR Nationwide Series testing in preparation for the Camping World 300 presented by Chevy:
1. 17A, Erik Darnell, Ford, 48.716, 184.744
2. 32A, Tony Raines, Toyota, 48.772, 184.532
3. 9A, Chase Miller, Dodge, 48.953, 183.850
4. 66R, Steve Wallace, Chevrolet, 48.975, 183.767
5. 00A, Michael McDowell, Toyota, 48.996, 183.688
6. 99A, David Reutimann, Toyota, 49.003, 183.662
7. 59A, Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 49.005, 183.655
8. 6A, David Ragan, Ford, 49.019, 183.602
9. 38B, Jason Leffler, Toyota, 49.024, 183.584
10. 47A, Kelly Bires, Ford, 49.036, 183.539
11. 32B, Tony Raines, Toyota, 49.046, 183.501
12. 70B, Mark Green, Chevrolet, 49.246, 182.756
13. 64J, D.Stremme/ R.Wallace, Chevrolet, 49.266, 182.682
14..17B, Erik Darnell, Ford, 49.421, 182.109
15. 72A, D.J. Kennington, Dodge, 49.554, 181.620
16. 77B, Cale Gale, Chevrolet, 49.868, 180.476
17. 77A, Cale Gale, Chevrolet, 50.011, 179.960
18. 29B, Scott Wimmer, Chevrolet, 50.085, 179.695
19. 29A, Scott Wimmer, Chevrolet, 50.257, 179.080
20. 9B, Chase Miller, Dodge, 50.499, 178.221
21. 11A, Jason Keller, Chevrolet, 50.575, 177.954
22. 05A, Justin Ashburn, Chevrolet, 50.943, 176.668
23. 6B, David Ragan, Ford, 50.977, 176.550
24. 52A, Donnie Neuenberger, Ford, 51.320, 175.370
25. 05B, Justin Ashburn, Chevrolet, 51.572, 174.513