Ambrose runs hot for NASCAR fifth

MARCOS Ambrose scored his second NASCAR top five finish for the season in Sunday's STP 500 at the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

The results moved the Launceston-born driver up to 14th in the Sprint Cup standings after six races.

Ambrose drove his No. 9 Ford Fusion to fifth at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee a fortnight ago before a disappointing 30th placing in the Auto Club 400 in California a week ago.

He was always in the leading bunch at Martinsville and hit the front on lap 174 of the half-mile oval track.

The Richard Petty Motorsports driver led the 423-kilometre race for 22 laps before crashes and cautions saw him shuffled back down the 43-car field.

Slick pit stops kept Ambrose and his Richard Petty Motorsports team-mate Aric Almirola, who finished eighth,  in the top half of the field.

Team principal Richard Petty was not at the track due to the death of his wife Lynda last week.

The couple had been married for more than 50 years and her funeral was held on Friday.

The RPM team was hoping for a win to honour Mrs Petty and Ambrose said it had been a rough week for everyone involved.

``We spent a lot of money and a lot of effort in getting Richard Petty Motorsports back on the map and I think you're seeing the results,'' he said.

``We've been fast for about four weeks in a row and were just starting to hit our stride.

``We're going to win one of these soon.''

It was the second race this season the two RPM drivers had finished in the top 10.

The race was won by Kurt Busch (his 25th Sprint Cup victory after 83 races without a win) with fellow Chevrolet drivers Jimmie Johnson and new championship leader Dale Earnhardt jnr filling the places.

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

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