When Marcos Ambrose narrowly lost out to A.J. Allmendinger earlier this month at Watkins Glen, it appeared that he had also lost out on his best opportunity to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
But the Australian, 44 points behind 16th on the Chase Grid, may be in line for a second chance tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway.
He’ll be starting 10th tonight in the Irwin Tools Night Race, and while Ambrose has never won on NASCAR’s most infamous half-mile, Bristol is still the road racing ace’s best oval track.
He’s claimed more Top-5 finishes there than at any other Cup track outside of the Glen, where he’s won twice in his Cup career.
In 11 Bristol starts, he’s picked up three Top-5s, the most recent of which came in March with a fifth-place finish. His six Top-10s there also equal the amount of Top-10s he’s gotten at both the Glen and Sonoma, the only two road courses on the Cup calendar.
“It’s a track and race that really proves how much mettle you have as a driver,” Ambrose said of Bristol going into this weekend. “That’s played into my hands. I can really muscle the car and race with it. I just enjoy this track, the challenge and am looking forward to Saturday night.
“I feel we have a good chance. This team gave me a good car in March, and we had good strategy. We know what we need to do. Our cars have been good here. We have had decent finishes, a few Top-Five results and now just looking to get that win. If you are in it in the final 100 laps, you have a chance to win.”
Additionally, he and Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola – who clinched his spot in the Chase by winning a rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 in July at Daytona – have both shown strength on short tracks overall this year.
Almirola finished third in the spring at Bristol, and then later this past March at Martinsville, Ambrose earned another fifth while Almirola came home eighth.
It may take a little luck over the course of 500 laps, but Ambrose can certainly provide one more Chase surprise with three races left in the regular season. Keep an eye on him this evening.