Marcos Ambrose overcame handling issues on his Stanley Ford Fusion to mount a stirring late race charge at Sonoma Raceway today, finishing eighth in the latest round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
After qualifying on pole position for the second straight week in new track record time, Ambrose led the opening laps before the car began to struggle in race conditions.
In an event which featured a record-low two caution periods, Ambrose fell down to 16th position late in the race.
However, a restart with only two laps remaining allowed Ambrose to come back through the pack to claim his fourth top-ten finish of the season.
The result sees Ambrose once again climb in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point score, with the Richard Petty Motorsports driver sitting in 16th position after 16 races.
"We missed it, but we did a good job to recover and get a top-ten out of it," Ambrose said.
"I just feel bad for my Stanley team. We will take it and move on.
"We got the pole and had a lot of speed; well learn from it and head to Kentucky next weekend."
For the second week in a row, Ambrose earned the bonus point for leading the first lap of the race.
Ambrose held down the top spot for the first 12 laps, before Jeff Gordon made his move, with the Australian then falling back through the field, to be eighth at the time of the first pit stop on lap 33 of 110.
Subsequent to tyre air pressure adjustments at the service, the car stabilised, with Ambrose hovering around tenth position for the next stint of racing.
Making his second green flag pit stop on lap 70, the Richard Petty Motorsports crew made further changes to the car, and with other competitors running out of fuel, Ambrose found himself in seventh position on lap 76.
By the time the first caution of the day waved for the crashed car of Tommy Drissi on lap 81, Ambrose was positioned in ninth, using the opportunity to head to the pits for further adjustments and a full set of new Goodyears.
Restarting from 11th, Ambrose was shuffled out wide, and dropped back to 16th.
Ambrose rebounded to be 13th when a three car pile-up with four laps remaining slowed the field for only the second time.
With the field facing a two lap green-white-chequered flag run to the finish, Ambrose dug deep and climbed to eighth at very last corner.
The race was won by Clint Bowyer over Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup next weekend returns to oval track competition with a Saturday night race at Kentucky Speedway.
Sonoma 350 Race Results
1. Clint Bowyer (Toyota)
2. Tony Stewart (Chevrolet)
3. Kurt Busch (Chevrolet)
4. Brian Vickers (Toyota)
5. Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet)
6. Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet)
7. Greg Biffle (Ford)
8. Marcos Ambrose (Ford)
9. A.J. Allmendinger (Dodge)
10. Joey Logano (Toyota)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings (after 16 of 36 races)
1. Matt Kenseth (Ford)- 596points
2.Greg Biffle (Ford)- 585
3.Dale Earnhardt Jnr (Chevrolet)- 582
4.Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet)- 571
5.Tony Stewart (Chevrolet)- 533
6.Kevin Harvick (Chevrolet)- 532
7.Clint Bowyer (Toyota)- 529
8.Denny Hamlin (Toyota)- 523
9.Martin Truex Jnr (Toyota)- 520
10. Brad Keselowski (Dodge)- 490
16. Marcos Ambrose (Ford)- 425