Ambrose fifth in Virginia

MARCOS Ambrose pulled his NASCAR season back on track with a fifth place in Sunday's STP 500 at the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

The Launceston-born Sprint Cup driver was always in the leading bunch and took the lead  on lap 174 on the half-mile oval track.

Ambrose's No. 9 Ford Fusion lead the 423 kilometre race for 22 laps before crashes and cautions saw him shuffled  back to 16th.

He worked his way into the leading 10 with just under 100 laps to go.

It was a welcome result for the lead Richard Petty Motorsports driver after a disappointing 30th placing in the Auto Club 400 in California a week ago which dropped him down to 20th in the season standings.

Slick pit stops kept Ambrose and his Richard Petty Motorsports team-mate Aric Almirola, who finished 8th,  in the top half of the field during the race won by Chevrolet driver Kurt Busch.

Fellow Chev drivers Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr filled the places.

For Busch, 35, it was his 25th Sprint Cup victory and came after 83 races without a win.

Dale Earnhardt's third placing lifted him back to the top of the season standings.

After six races Ambrose is in 14th place in standings and still in contention for a place in the championship deciding Chase at the end of the season.

The NASCAR action moves to the Texas Motor Speedway next weekend.

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