Marcos Ambrose has continued to impress in his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup big league, racing hard to a strong 14th place finish in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona at the weekend.
The result in the race equals his second-best result of the season and hoists him two spots into 26th in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
That championship position certainly does not reflect Ambrose's true pace and the respect he is building with his peers. The Australian has finished in the top 20 in five of his eight races this season, engine failure in two events hurting his points tally.
Ambrose qualified 29th at the one-mile oval aboard his #47 Clorox-backed JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota Camry. He settled into a steady pace in the first part of the race before moving into the top 20 mid-race.
Ambrose steadily moved up the order racing against many of the more established stars of NASCAR, knocking on the door of a top 10 run before ending the 312-lap race in 14th position, equally his finish at Martinsville last month and backing up his 10th place run at Bristol, his best result so far this season.
"We ran great today and it's just great to be a part of what we have going here," said Ambrose.
"Our Clorox car felt great all day. We worked on it and Frank (Kerr, #47 crew chief) made some good changes and the race really came to us.
"It's nice to run well and be able to bring the car home to the finish and get the points we need to keep moving forward.
Evergreen Mark Martin, driving a Chevrolet for Rick Hendrick Motorsport, won the Subway Fresh Fit 500, ahead of Tony Stewart (Chevrolet), and Kurt Busch (Penske Dodge).
It was Martin's first win in anything but a Roush Ford. He is, at 50, the third oldest driver to win a NASCAR premier class race.
Ambrose will make his second superspeedway start for the season next weekend when he runs the Aaron's 499 at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway, the fastest oval in the championship.
RESULTS: Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway
Race 8 in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
1. #5 Mark Martin 312 laps
2. #14 Tony Stewart
3. #2 Kurt Busch
4. #48 Jimmie Johnson
5. #16 Greg Biffle
6. #11 Denny Hamlin
7. #1 Martin Truex Jr
8. #00 David Reutimann
9. #77 Sam Hornish Jr
10. #99 Carl Edwards
14. #47 Marcos Ambrose
2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver's Standings - After Race 8 of 36
1. Jeff Gordon 1242
2. Jimmie Johnson 1157
3. Kurt Busch 1144
4. Tony Stewart 1138
5. Denny Hamlin 1088
6. Clint Bowyer 1052
7. Kyle Busch 1026
8. Carl Edwards 1023
9. David Reutimann 992
10. Kasey Kahne 975
26. Marcos Ambrose 777