Newcastle striker Jeremy Brockieready for graveyard shift on familiar turf

LETHAL: Jeremy Brockie celebrates his goal against Sydney FC.THERE may be a degree of apprehension among his Newcastle Jets teammates, but Jeremy Brockie will walk without fear into the graveyard on Friday night.
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In their past seven visits to Wellington’s vast, intimidating Westpac Stadium, the Jets have returned empty-handed each time.

Seven games, seven defeats.

Goals for: one.

Goals against: 18.

It would be enough to give even battle-hardened veterans insomnia before they so much as board their trans-Tasman flight.

But Brockie is exuding all the enthusiasm of a kid told he can open his Christmas presents two days early.

Not only is the passionate New Zealander heading back to his native soil, but also he will do so in perhaps the form of his life.

Now 24, Brockie burst on the scene when he was a teenager with the now defunct New Zealand Knights, scoring four goals in nine starts during the inaugural A-League campaign.

But the footballing gods seemed intent on making an outstanding youngster pay his dues.

By the time this season kicked off, Brockie had pinballed around among Auckland, Sydney FC, North Queensland and finally Newcastle, playing in only 47 A-League games along the way.

A succession of injuries, including a broken ankle and broken foot, threatened to cruel a promising career.

All the while, Brockie never lost faith.

And finally it seems his fortunes have turned. Having played in only 14 of Newcastle’s 30 games in 2010-11, this season his attendance record is 100per cent – 11 out of 11.

Along the way he has scored four goals, including a cracking volley in Newcastle’s 2-1 loss to Sydney FC on Saturday.

Brockie rated his strike against Sydney as ‘‘definitely one of my best’’ but was disappointed it did not earn his team three competition points.

‘‘It took a long time to come down from space, but it just hit the sweet spot on my foot, and as soon as I connected with it I knew it was going to be flying,’’ he said.

It took a split-second, but Brockie said his dazzling goal was hours in the making.

‘‘It’s great to be feeling in this shape,’’ he said.

‘‘I worked really hard in the pre-season to prepare myself to make sure I wasn’t going to break down, and I’m getting some rewards at the moment.’’

Not that the 24-game New Zealand international – the only Jet to have appeared at last year’s World Cup – is about to rest on his laurels.

Finding a level of consistency is his main focus.

‘‘I haven’t been performing in away games as well as home games, but that’s the same for the whole team,’’ he said.

‘‘But in terms of goals and getting into goal-scoring opportunities, I’m pretty happy with how that’s going.

‘‘Hopefully I can keep adding to the tally and help the team move up the ladder.’’

Jets coach Gary van Egmond is also eager to see fewer peaks and troughs in Brockie’s form line.

‘‘He’s getting better,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘For me, he still drifts in and out of games a little bit too much.

‘‘He scored a wonderful goal, and he’s been doing that for us, scoring goals that perhaps not many people can do.

‘‘But he has to become more effective over the whole of the 90minutes, not just on one piece of magic.’’

There would be no better place for Brockie to prove he can be a week in, week out contributor than in the New Zealand capital, which is just across the Cook Strait from his home town, Nelson.

Having represented his country at the ground they call the Cake Tin, Brockie is one of the few Newcastle players with fond memories of the venue, which is perhaps most famous for its inhospitable weather and natives.

‘‘You never know what you’re going to get in Wellington,’’ he said.

‘‘One day it can be raining and windy and a horrible place to play, and on another day there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sun’s shining … [but] Wellington always has good, passionate supporters, especially after our achievements at last year’s World Cup.’’

The loyalty of Wellingtonians, however, extends only so far.

Last season Brockie was heckled as a ‘‘traitor’’ during the pre-match warm-up, a comment he typically accepted with a wry smile.

‘‘I think that’s all just fun and games. I look at the positives, and if they’re winding me up I suppose that shows they respect me as a player,’’ he said.

On Friday there will at least be some friendly faces in the crowd.

‘‘I’ve got a few relatives in Wellington,’’ Brockie said. ‘‘My brother is coming over from Perth to stay on for Christmas.

‘‘My dad and his partner are coming across from Nelson, as well.

‘‘Obviously we’ve got Christmas Day and Boxing Day off as well, so I’ll manage to spend a bit of time back home after the game with the family.

‘‘I’ll have Christmas back over there for the first time in about five years, so I’m looking forward to that.’’

As for one day making himself at home in Wellington, the self-proclaimed ‘‘proud Kiwi’’, who is off contract this season, said it was not a subject he had considered.

‘‘I’ve never really thought about it, to be honest,’’ Brockie said.

‘‘I’m happy here in Newcastle but football’s a funny game.

‘‘Anything can happen at any time, but I don’t even know if they’d be interested in having me.’’

If Brockie keeps scoring goals like his screamer against Sydney, Wellington may have to join the queue.

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Renewed pressure on Thomson

Labor MHR Craig Thomson is under investigation for misuse of a union credit card.CANBERRA – The federal coalition has stepped up pressure on a government agency to conclude a two-year investigation into the alleged misuse of a union credit card by Labor MP Craig Thomson.
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Fair Work Australia said in December it expected its investigation into the Health Services Union, which Mr Thomson headed from 2002 to 2007, to continue into the new year despite being at an advanced stage.

The New South Wales federal MP faces allegations his HSU credit card was used to pay for prostitutes and make cash withdrawals, which is the focus of police investigations in Victoria.

The workplace watchdog started looking at the allegations in April 2009, but a formal investigation did not start until March 2010.

Former industrial registrar Doug Williams, the public servant who began the investigation, criticised its longevity on Thursday.

“Over two years, in the overall scheme of things, is unaccountably protracted,” Mr Williams said.

“I would have been exceedingly reticent to allow proceedings to drag on.”

Mr Williams’ comments were fresh ammunition for the coalition, who renewed its calls for an urgent end to the investigation.

“Mr Williams’ unprecedented intervention is very serious,” opposition workplace relations spokesman Eric Abetz said.

“When you have the former industrial registrar saying he wouldn’t allow this investigation to go on for as long as it has, you know that something is amiss.

“Fair Work Australia must prioritise and finalise their investigation.”

Senator Abetz said the issue would be a focus at Senate estimates in February.

“Members of the Health Services Union are entitled to answers and the public are entitled to know the outcome of the investigation into somebody that is allowing the Gillard government to limp on,” he said.

His resignation from parliament would put pressure on the Labor minority government, but would not lead to its fall.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Anti-social behaviour on probation

UNPRECEDENTED: Superintendent John Gralton with the 25 new probationary constables hitting the streets yesterday. – Picture by Max Mason-HubersNEWCASTLE police have warned anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated over the holiday period with 25 new probationary constables hitting the streets yesterday.
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Superintendent John Gralton said the intake was a record for the Newcastle local area command and would help to keep drunk and disorderly behaviour to a minimum over Christmas.

Newcastle’s CBD has five establishments on the state’s most-violent hotels list, including three categorised as level-one, which is the highest based on the number of assaults.

‘‘It is absolutely unprecedented for Newcastle LAC to get that many probationary constables,’’ Superintendent Gralton said. ‘‘Northern Region was given 183 in the allocation from the academy with a recognition that country policing needs a boost at the moment.

‘‘The message needs to be ‘if you are out and about on the street at Christmas time enjoy yourself, but we will not tolerate any anti-social behaviour’. If you are walking down the street we want you to feel safe and as soon as somebody commits an offence they are going to have to deal with the consequences.’’

MJ Finnegans was listed as the region’s most violent venue, ahead of Fannys and the Cambridge Hotel while King Street Hotel and Maitland’s Belmore Hotel were level-two listings.

‘‘It’s coming into our busy period when we have a lot of anti-social behaviour around the licensed premises in the CBD we really need extra support on the street,’’ Superintendent Gralton said.

‘‘We’re trying to send a strong message to the community that if the police turn up there are going to be consequences and we will be taking action to try to reduce that anti-social behaviour in the city.

Superintendent Gralton said Newcastle’s command had significantly reduced the number of police on sick leave over the past six months.

He was also looking forward to the arrival of another six officers on transfers and four or five sergeants that had been recruited.

‘‘That means about 35 extra cops for Newcastle coming in December and January,’’ he said.

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Decoding the longevity of Hawking

Stephen HawkingBRITISH scientist Stephen Hawking has decoded some of the most puzzling mysteries of the universe but he has left one mystery unsolved: how he has managed to survive so long with such a crippling disease.
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The physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was a 21-year-old student at Cambridge University. Most people die within a few years of the diagnosis, but tomorrow Hawking will turn 70.

“I don’t know of anyone who’s survived this long,” said Ammar Al-Chalabi, director of the Motor Neurone Disease Care and Research Centre at King’s College London. He does not treat Hawking and described his longevity as “extraordinary”.

“It is unusual for (motor neurone disease) patients to survive for decades, but not unheard of,” said Rup Tandan, a neurology professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

Hawking first gained attention with his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, a simplified overview of the universe. It sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. His subsequent theories have revolutionised modern understanding of concepts such as black holes and the Big Bang theory of how the universe began.

To mark his birthday, Cambridge University is holding a public symposium on “The State of the Universe”, featuring talks from 27 leading scientists, including Hawking.

For 30 years, he held a mathematics post at the university previously held by Sir Isaac Newton. Hawking retired from that position in 2009 and is now director of research at the university’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking achieved all that despite being nearly entirely paralysed and in a wheelchair since 1970. He has round-the-clock care and communicates only by twitching his right cheek, relying on a computer and voice synthesiser to speak. It can take up to 10 minutes for Hawking to formulate a single sentence.

Motor neurone disease attacks cells that control the muscles. Only about 10 per cent of patients live longer than a decade, and life expectancy generally ranges from two to five years.

Mr Al-Chalabi and colleagues are analysing a DNA sample from Hawking, along with those of other patients, to see if there is something rare about his disease or any genetic mutations that could explain his long survival and if that information could be used to help others.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Ricky Ponting Michelle O’Byrne
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Bob Brown

Nick McKim

Darrel Baldock

Princess Mary

John Kirwan

Terry Martin

Matthew Goss

The Examiner has picked the top 50 newsmakers in Tasmania in 2011 …

Click here to view The Examiner’s top 50 newsmakers in 2011


1 – LARA GIDDINGS: When Ms Giddings took over as Premier of Tasmania from David Bartlett in January, she couldn’t possibly have imagined how badly 2011 was going to turn out.

She kept Treasury and oversaw a horror budget, saw her Education Minister defeated in the Legislative Council elections and ended the year answering questions about a rumoured leadership challenge from Franklin MHA David O’Byrne.

2 – BOB BROWN: The leader of the Australian Greens seemed to be wielding nearly as much power as the Prime Minister as he used his party’s balance of power in the Federal Parliament to push the environmental lobby position on key issues such as the carbon tax and alternative energy.

3 – TERRY MARTIN: The former politician finally faced court over child sex charges and received a 10-month suspended jail sentence for having sex with a 12-year-old girl prostituted by her mother and a family friend. Justice David Porter said Martin’s hypersexuality was an illness that had to be treated as a mitigating factor in considering his sentence.

4 – RICKY PONTING: After relinquishing the Australian captaincy at the beginning of the year, the Launceston-born cricketer found himself fending off calls to retire altogether from international cricket. As Australia’s most prolific run-scorer, Ponting said he was determined to bat on.

5 – MICHELLE O’BYRNE: Not many people were surprised when Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne said she was worried that the state’s hospitals wouldn’t meet their budget targets. In October she fronted 1500 angry health workers in Launceston concerned about their jobs in the face of a $100 million budget reduction at the LGH.

6 – MATTHEW GOSS: The Launceston cyclist capped an outstanding 2011 by winning the Tasmanian athlete of the year award in December. His victory in the Milan-San Remo classic was just one highlight of 2011 as he set his sights on representing Australia in London at the Olympic Games.

7 – NICK McKIM: With responsibility for education and the prison service, the Greens cabinet minister in the Labor government certainly had his hands full in 2011. There was the unsuccessful plan to close 20 Tasmanian schools in the state budget and a few problems at Risdon Prison, including cells that couldn’t hold prisoners and a hostage situation.

8 – DARREL BALDOCK: He remains the St Kilda Football Club’s only premiership captain and his death in February was a time of sadness as well as celebration for the life of a man who continued to achieve after his illustrious football career. His state funeral at Latrobe was attended by 5000 people from all sections of the community.

9 – PRINCESS MARY: The Crown Princess of Denmark started the year by giving birth to twins Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine and then dealing with the worldwide interest in her growing family. She spent the latter part of the year relaxing with family and friends in Hobart.

10 – JOHN KIRWAN: Faced with making savings of about $100 million a year, the Launceston General Hospital chief executive told a University of Tasmania graduation ceremony that he’d never seen health services reduced the way they were being cut in Tasmania. He described the situation as a fundamental shift and not a short-term adjustment.

Click here to see who else made The Examiner’s top 50 newsmakers in 2011

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Puppy love could still turn sour

EVER since Michael Clarke was handed the leadership baton, it seemed that Pup was on a recruitment drive.
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A campaign to convince the many knockers that this ”young punk” surely can be man to hold what many believe to be the most important job in this country.

To fight off the opinion that the young man who has sported the peroxide look, worn the ear rings, driven the fast cars and had the supermodel companions surely couldn’t follow in the footsteps of street fighters like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor.

But after a breathtaking triple century, Clarke’s once empty bandwagon is now overflowing.

His demolition of India in Sydney was sublime to say the least, and exemplified leadership at its very best.

Shots all around the wicket, with a level of confidence and timing rarely seen from his unsponsored blade.

I didn’t think I would ever be more impressed with a Michael Clarke knock than his 151 against South Africa in Cape Town in November.

That was a gutsy, brave knock that ensured his side complied a respectable total.

There are comparisons to both those knocks, with Australia 3-37 when he came to crease (3-40 at Cape Town), but this innings soon changed from a dog-fight to a master class.

The other major argument against Clarke becoming our new leader was at the time he was barely demanding a place in the team.

His unbeaten 329 was his fourth Test ton since taking charge, in comparison to none in the 12 months leading up.

Combined with his cleverness in the field placements and with bowling changes, it’s nothing but a big tick for the 30-year-old.

And the cherry on top of our new-found love for Clarke is his unselfish decision to call time on his innings.

Even with the forecast of rain today, he could have batted on until deep into final session and had a crack at the magical 400, but put the team first.

But like any relationship, one event could easily end this bout of ”Puppy Love”.

A disastrous Ashes campaign, even if Clarke himself stands up with the bat, is all that it will take to get people off-side again.

As impressive as this current form is, it is against an Indian team which suffers from major cases of homesickness.

England are still the benchmark, and even with the likes of James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Nathan Lyon and Usman Khawaja there is hope, but there’s still a lot of work needed to done before 2013 rolls around.

Losses to New Zealand and an inability to pass 50 against South Africa to close 2011 is evidence of that.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Top fancies lose first Twenty20 games

BIG BASH: Wests batsman Chris Young on the attack yesterday against Hamwicks at Harker Oval. – Picture by Dean OslandTWO of the hot favourites for the Newcastle grade cricket Twenty20 crown suffered shock defeats yesterday in the opening round.
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Two-time defending champions University fell seven runs short of chasing down Waratah-Mayfield’s 119 at University Oval and Hamilton-Wickham were rolled for 73 in reply to Western Suburbs’ 9-86 at Harker Oval.

With Webber brothers Sam and Matt and captain Kirk Mullard in their ranks, Hamwicks boast some of the most destructive hitters in the competition.

Only a month ago at Harker Oval Sam Webber belted 15 sixes in a knock of 175.

But yesterday Webber made just six in five balls in a game that failed to produce a single six.

Fresh from match figures of 9-60 in the two-day win over Cardiff-Boolaroo, Rosellas captain Ben Woolmer took 2-14 off four overs against Hamwicks.

‘‘We bowled and fielded very well,’’ Woolmer said.

‘‘It was definitely a good win with only 86 on the board. We were looking a bit dodgy at the start at 6-30.’’

No.5 Wests batsman Todd Griffith top-scored for the game with 28, an innings that proved a saviour for the home side.

University captain Josh Emerton said he believed his and Daniel Odd’s dismissals led to the loss.

‘‘We restricted them pretty well as the pitch was dry, but a couple of decisions were pretty costly at our end,’’ Emerton said.

Waratah’s Myles Cook (34) and Nathan Hudson (36) were the backbone of the Tahs’ 119 from 19.3 overs.

Opening bowler Nathan Martin then cemented Waratah’s second win of the summer with a spell of 4-24 in 3.1 overs.

Merewether (5-124) chased down Stockton-Raymond Terrace’s 123 with four balls to spare at Lynn Oval.

And Charlestown got the points when they defended 5-154 against Toronto (140) at Ron Hill Oval.

Wallsend’s Joe Curk (56) ensured the Tigers handed Cardiff-Boolaroo a 91-run defeat at Wallsend Oval.

The Tigers made 7-196 and dismissed the CBs for 105 in 13 overs, thanks to 4-23 from Cameron Roxby.

Competition leaders Belmont (4-148) chased down Newcastle City’s 7-144 at Cahill Oval after an unbeaten 53 from skipper Mark Littlewood.

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Sex offences under spotlight

Attorney-General Brian Wightman.ATTORNEY-GENERAL Brian Wightman has a wide-ranging legislative agenda for 2012, with the sex industry, electoral donations, surrogacy and sex offender sentencing all on his list.
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Sex offender sentencing is one of the more high-profile issues Mr Wightman will be considering.

He has referred the issue to the Sentencing Advisory Council.

“It’s very, very important that we make sure that we have an informed debate,” he said.

Mr Wightman said the council, in its second year of operation, would provide a good grounding for informed debate on a range of legal issues as its members were all experts in the operation of the justice system.

“We all have opinions on justice but at times we’re very reactionary,” he said.

“I think it’s absolutely vitally important that we have a link between the government and the public and the justice system.”

Mr Wightman will also follow up on work done by the council in relation to arson sentencing and said he was expecting the council to soon release a paper relating to assaults on emergency service workers.

He said he was eagerly awaiting a paper from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute on a review of sections of the Criminal Code relating to child sex offences, which was triggered by the 2009 case of a twelve-year-old girl sold for sex by her mother and a family friend.

Mr Wightman said legislative changes would be made if necessary.

He is hoping to release a discussion paper relating to electoral donations either this month or next, which will look at whether there should be a cap on campaign expenditure for House of Assembly candidates – a cap already applies to Legislative Council candidates.

A long-awaited discussion paper on the regulation of the state’s sex industry is also expected this month.

“It will particularly focus on the health and safety of sex workers and the protection of public health,” Mr Wightman said.

He expects to be able to re-introduce legislation to allow altruistic surrogacy, following an inquiry by a Legislative Council committee.

Mr Wightman said his department was working through the committee’s recommendations and that he hoped to have the amended legislation before the Parliament this year.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Real men lift heavy things

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Physically we were spent before departure, but greatness is rarely achieved being sensible.

Some people believe men are basically useless unless they’re lifting something.

That’s harsh because many men are often useless lifting things too. But we must be doing something right because people keep asking us to lift things.

So the other day, the call went out: a lounge suite had to be picked up from somewhere sooner rather than later, triggering forward motion in our house not seen since the great bushfire evacuation of 2004. Not exactly panic – that came later when the three-seater sofa fell off the roof of the 4×4 – but definitely a sense of purpose.

First of all, a favour had to be asked of an unfortunate mate at short notice. I shudder to think what pleasant expectations this mate had of his day off as he answered the phone. But he responded in the affirmative, perhaps lured by the opportunity for men of valour to join in glorious union to defy gravity and middle age. More likely because he was a good bloke.

That decided, we got into it with gusto, as men of valour do when there’s a lift on.

A monster rack had to be put on top of the 4×4. It’s called a monster rack because it’s monstrously heavy. Nearly heavier than the 4×4 . And it’s amazing how much energy is expended hoisting one onto a roof, back to front first time. Second time I don’t remember much except screaming repeatedly ‘‘You got it? You got it? HANG ON!!!’’

Physically we were spent before departure, but greatness is rarely achieved being sensible.

First thing to do when we arrived at the pick-up spot was to look like we knew what we were doing. That was achieved by reversing into the neighbour’s fence with my rear vision mirror, at speed. Any remaining doubts were erased when my mate attempted to open the back door of the 4×4 by pulling the casing off the number-plate light. I could sense our host thinking ‘‘seasoned removalists’’, and I was pleased.

Next step was to address the lift. Seemingly an innocuous leather lounge; but when engaged, heavier than a war memorial.

The plan, if you could call it that, was to put it on the monster rack of the 4×4. The Egyptians had built pyramids without machines. How hard could it be putting a sofa on a roof? Without an army of slaves, reasonably difficult we discovered. It was hard enough getting the monster rack up there without a slave army! Getting it to the vertical was easy. Achieving lift-off was the catch. Avoiding crush injuries and hernias were other concerns. Don’t really know what went down, but when the red mist cleared, that sucker was up, proving miracles can happen if you strain hard enough.

Now to tie it down. Rope voodoo. Not much method in the madness, but by the time we finished that thing looked like the latest Christo creation.

Not sure whether stepping in dog poo was part of the plan, but I’ll always associate the sweet sensation of rope burn with the heady scent of Fido.

Next, navigate home without stacking it. Rather than a long wide load, we were a short, tall fulcrum.

Best to take the shortest route with the least amount of camber. That’d be ‘‘tilt’’ in layman’s language. One step away from ‘‘roll’’ in the 4×4 disaster handbook.

Once home, the thing had to come off the roof, which gets us back to the panic mentioned earlier.

Again I remember screaming ‘‘you got it, you got it, HANG ON!!!’’ before the sofa slipped off the rack and started inexorably crushing me. As I sagged I recall crying out ‘‘tell the kids I love them’’ and ‘‘I’m melting’’.

Just before asphyxiation, I gave it one last desperate death roll and got a grip. Then we lugged it to the door.

I kid you not, though, after all the guts and glory, when we got it there, the thing didn’t fit.

Who said we’re useless?

Are men basically useless unless they’re lifting something?

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Great expectations asAmbrose takes top spot

Marocs Ambrose will move into the spotlight this year as the lead driver at Richard Petty Motorsports.MARCOS Ambrose has been declared the `undisputed’ lead driver for the Richard Petty Motorsports team for this year’s top-level NASCAR series after the departure of team mate AJ Allmendinger.
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Richard Petty Motorsport announced yesterday that well-performed second tier racer Aric Almirola will drive the team’s No. 43 Ford Fusion in 2012.

Allmendinger, who finished the 2011 season in 15th place, replaces 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch at Penske Racing and will drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger.

Ambrose confirmed his commitment to the Richard Petty team after a disappointing did-not-finish in the last race of the past season in Miami.

“It’s a bad way to finish the season, but we’ve had a great year and really wanted to finish on a high note . . . I’m looking forward to 2012 and making it ever better.”

The Launceston-born driver scored his first Sprint Cup win in August when he won at Watkins Glen International, one of two road races in the series, and finished the season in 19th place.

The Watkins Glen victory was his 105th start and he joined Mario Andretti (Italy), Earl Ross (Canada) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Columbia) as the only non-American drivers to win a race in the US’s premier motorsport category.

Writing on the official NASCAR website, commentator Joe Menzer says Ambrose is poised for more success in 2012.

“Ambrose will enter this season as the undisputed top driver at Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 9 Ford.

“With that comes increased expectations to get to Victory Lane on an oval (track) and contend for a Chase berth.

“This year he seems better prepared for what may lay just ahead.

“If he can contend again on the two Cup road courses and finally get it done on at least one oval (track), his closely-watched season will be considered a success.”

It will be Ambrose’s fourth season of full-time racing in the Sprint Cup series.

Aric Almirola, who finished fourth in the second tier Nationwide Series in 2011, has made 35 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and drove five races for Richard Petty Motorsport in 2010.

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