MARCOS Ambrose's dream of a third consecutive NASCAR victory on New York's famous road track at Watkins Glen was shattered five laps from home in a race-ending crash on Sunday.
The Launceston-born driver was the fastest qualifier and entered the Sprint Cup race as favourite.
Starting on pole he had his No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford Fusion in the lead for 51 of the 90 laps and was running 12th when he was hit by Italian invitation driver Max Papis and spun into the fence.
``It's not the way we wanted our day to finish,'' Ambrose said.
One of the cars that hit Ambrose in the aftermath was fellow Tasmanian Owen Kelly, also an invited driver, who was making his Sprint Cup debut.
``I thought we'd probably end up about 15th overall, our pace was with those guys who were around there, but I lost a bunch of spots when Marcos (Ambrose) crashed,'' Kelly said.
``I could see him go around and was trying to avoid hitting him, but we just collected him on the way through.
``I reckon we lost about eight spots in jamming on the brakes to miss him.''
Kelly, who started in 23rd spot on the grid, drove the No. 51 Chevrolet of the Phoenix Racing team into 24th place in the 43-car field.
He was the first of the non-regular Sprint Cup drivers to finish.
``It was an awesome experience _ NASCAR is such a big sport over here it is hard to put into words,'' Kelly said.
``We didn't get the result we were looking for in terms of position, but showed that we can be part of this deal.
``It was definitely the biggest race that I have ever been involved in.''
Kelly races again next weekend in the second-tier NASCAR Nationwide Series in Ohio in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing car usually driven by Kyle Busch who was the winner at Watkins Glen.
Ambrose heads to the Michigan 400 where the racing returns to the predominantly oval track format of NASCAR.
Sunday's result saw him drop to 23rd in the Sprint Cup season standings.