Ambrose Set For Cup Career

A full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing lies ahead for Marcos Ambrose as the popular Australian driver looks to continue his stock car racing career.

After a successful road racing career in his native Australia, Ambrose made the move to NASCAR in the truck and Nationwide Series.

But now he's preparing for the biggest challenge of his racing life when he competes full-time in NASCAR's top division.

"I guess when you get to this stage in your career and you get a chance to do a full-time Cup ride you should know what you're doing," said Ambrose. "So I'm going to go back and rely on my knowledge I've gained over the years about being a professional driver, and getting going as fast as I can at the Cup level.

"Obviously, the Cup series is bigger, there are more pressures and more work. The sponsors as well. So I've worked hard in the off season to think about who I am as a race driver, what I need to do to be better."

Ambrose will pilot the new JTG Daugherty Racing No. 27 Toyota this season with an alignment to Michael Waltrip Racing.

With all the shuffling of teams, drivers and car numbers in the off-season, Ambrose winds up with points in the Top 35 from the 2008 standings which gives him a guaranteed starting spot in the first five races of the year, including the Daytona 500.

"I have good and bad news for you there," he said. "The bad news is you're not right, we are locked in, which is the good news for the 500. With some reshuffling of numbers, some teams are going away. We've jumped from 36 in points well inside the cutoff of top 35.

"So we're locked in for the first five races. That is a huge benefit to us. JTG Dougherty Racing is in their first year at the Cup level."

That relief was just one reason the new operation looked to partner with the established MWR.

"Part of the reason we associated ourselves with Michael Waltrip and getting them to run our cars and our teams is to be able to get those points," Ambrose said. "So we're really excited about how the off season has worked for us, as far as getting points is concerned. We're locked in. We feel like we're on an equal level with everybody else on the field, and to make sure we stay in the top 35 for the whole year."

It's an exciting time for Ambrose who is aware that his climb up the NASCAR and stock car ladder has been fast.

"My learning curve has been steep," Ambrose said. "I feel fortunate to be given a chance to get to the Cup level. Considering I've only had three years of NASCAR experience and oval experience all start, it's been a wild ride for me. I'm learning every day. But at the same time I'm at this Cup level, there is nowhere to hide. You have to basically be on your game. I feel like I'm at a place I'm ready to go."

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