Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Stanley/Dewalt Ford Fusion, spoke Friday at the 2011 Daytona Preseason Thunder about his return to Ford Racing after a long history with the manufacturer, what it is like to drive for The King and his relationship with teammate AJ Allmendinger.
YOU HAVE A LONG HISTORY WITH FORD, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK? "It feels like it has come full circle for me. I started my professional racing career with Ford Australia and now here I am in the heart of my NASCAR career and come straight back to the Ford family. It feels great and I am looking forward to this year and looking forward to building on the relationships that I had in the past."
WHAT KIND OF GOALS OR EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR 2011? "We need to win, no doubt about it. We expect to win. We have a company behind us with Stanley and Dewalt that want to win races and it is what we are here to do. If we can win races and be consistent then you never know what is possible."
YOU HAVE A HUGE FOLLOWING IN YOUR NATIVE AUSTRALIA AND THOSE FOLKS HAVE BECOME BIG FORD FANS HAVEN'T THEY? "Yeah and it keeps growing. Ford, in Australia, is one of the big two manufacturers and a lot of my fans there are very loyal Ford fans. I think they are going to really kick up in 2011 trying to make this year as good as we can. Obviously on track success will help things a lot. It is great to have Australian fans checking out NASCAR and more importantly being Ford fans. WHAT IT IS GOING TO BE LIKE FOR YOU DRIVING FOR THE KING, RICHARD PETTY? "Well, it is a little intimidating. Not only now will he say 'Good-day, how is it going?' but he will also want to know why I didn't win the race. There is a lot of prestige being associated with Richard Petty Motorsports and it is a real honor for me to drive for The King and I never thought I would get that chance. I am looking forward to the opportunity and hopefully he is going to be proud of me, just like I am of his company."
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS SO FAR OF THIS NEW SURFACE AT DAYTONA? "It is a really racy surface. I think we will have some of the best racing you have ever seen at Daytona. There is a lot of grip and drivers are going to get really confident. The drafting packs are going to be really tight and I am looking forward to it. I think it is going to be three or maybe even four-wide out there. This place is narrow and steep so I am sure there will be lots of action.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CREW CHIEF TODD PARROTT? "We are learning each other and it is all new. Through time and working with each other it will garner a respect for each other. I am learning my team and learning Todd. I am really proud to be associated with this bunch. They are a great group of people. Todd has won a Cup championship and Daytona 500 rings so I have a lot of respect for him. I am looking forward to blending into this group as best I can and letting them really make the most of me. I have a lot to learn and I am sure Todd is going to take me to the next level so I am excited about it."
HOW ABOUT WORKING WITH NEW TEAMMATE AJ ALLMENDINGER? WHAT IS THAT DYNAMIC LIKE? "He is trying to talk Australian and make Australian jokes (laughter). He and I get on great. We have known each other for a few years now and it is going to be fun to have him as a teammate and hopefully we will work well together both on and off the racetrack to make Richard Petty Motorsports as good as it can be."
THE TWO OF YOU HAVE QUITE A COMBINED ROAD RACING BACKGROUND. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WILL HELP YOU GUYS OUT? "I think that both of us really want to just be known as NASCAR contenders. I know AJ had a really good second half last year and has momentum. I am trying to catch up to him as quickly as I can. We just want to be known as contenders every week. We want to be known not just as road race specialists, but NASCAR drivers in general."
-source: ford racing