Two more races before he returns to Australia.
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion, has two races remaining in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career before heading back to his native Australia, where he will compete for Roger Penske and Dick Johnson next year in the V8 Supercar Series. He spoke with Ford Racing after today’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice and discussed the nine years he spent racing in the United States.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF YOUR CURRENT HOUSE HERE IN THE UNITED STATES? “It’s for lease or sale if anybody wants a nice five-bedroom house in Concord. Give me a call. Everything is pretty much on the market. I’ve been whittling down any assets I’ve had over the last six months and I’m still working towards that goal. I want to be fully out of America in the next year or so, and hopefully we’ll be able to sell the house and get everything moved.”
YOU HAVE A CONTAINER AT YOUR HOUSE THAT WILL BE SHIPPED TO AUSTRALIA? “I do. I came over with a backpack and a duffle bag and I’m going home with a 20-foot container. I’ve been filling it up with my stuff as I work through what I want to keep and what I want to throw out. It’s going to get shipped in mid-December and it should be back in Australia mid-February for me to unload it. We’ve tried to not get too much stuff here in the U.S. because we knew it was always going to come to an end at some point and that’s proved to be the case. It’s certainly not easy to leave. We’ve been here nine years and bought some stuff and enjoyed our time. Some of the pit crew are going to get some really cool stuff coming up here like TVs, couches, pots and pans. We’re going to hand away most of the stuff that we’re not going to take home.”
WHAT KIND OF SCHEDULE ARE YOU ON AS FAR AS LEAVING AFTER HOMESTEAD? “I leave on the Monday after Homestead. I’m going to go down and get some work done and then I’ll come back on the 10th of December and just finish off the packing. I’ll pick the kids up after they finish the school term and we’re going to fly back for good on the 18th.”
WHAT’S THE FEELING AS YOU SEE THIS CHAPTER OF YOUR CAREER COMING TO AN END? “It’s just great that RPM has been so gracious with my departure. Sometimes when you end a chapter like this it can get a bit sticky at the end, but RPM has been fantastic. Everyone is really pleased for me and thrilled for what I’ve been able to contribute and it’s just great to be held in that regard. A lot of guys have been coming up and saying their goodbyes. It’s good fun. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I get the checkered flag in Homestead. I’m sure it’s going to have a bittersweet feeling to it, but I’ve got a lot to look forward to and a lot of good friends and people to say goodbye to. It’s been fun the last few weeks, but I want to try and run as good as I can these last couple of races and leave on the right note and leave showing that I had really good pace and that I left with my A-game on.”
HOW DO YOU CHARACTERIZE THESE NINE YEARS? “It’s been great. I’ve got some unfinished business in NASCAR, which I wish I could have ticked the box on. Obviously, winning a race on the ovals is tough. I wanted to make the Chase and we came close, but couldn’t quite make it. So there are some pieces to the puzzle that I’m missing, but in general I’m just thrilled to have experienced it and my family to enjoy what America is. We’ve learned a lot and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve become a better person overall for it, a better dad, and a better race car driver, so it’s been a great experience for us. It’s really toughened me up a lot and it’s been fun.”
DO YOU CONSIDER THIS PHASE OF YOUR CAREER A SUCCESS OR WAS IT A SUCCESS JUST TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO RACE IN NASCAR? “It’s nothing but success. I really came over with a lot of ambition and determination and managed to make it in a country that has some incredible talent. There are some great drivers all the away from short track racing at the local level all the way through the Sprint Cup Series. I got my breaks along the way and made the most of them and I’m just really, really pleased to have made it and I feel like I’ve made it. I don’t feel like I’m a B-Class driver out there. I feel I’m as good as anyone on my day. I’ve learned the ovals and managed to survive them.”
YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT? “Probably having The King in victory lane with me was just an amazing thing. To get to know the Petty family personally and to experience victory lane with Richard was just incredible. Winning a race is great, but sharing it with The King was pretty special.”
HOW FAR HAS YOU COME AS A DRIVER SINCE COMING HERE? “I’ve certainly grown as a driver. The last couple of years have been tough results-wise, but I feel like I’m driving as good as I ever have. I feel really confident behind the wheel, so I feel really good about it. On my day I can run with the best of them and that’s good to know.”
HOW DO YOU COMPARE THE CALIBER OF DRIVERS AND LEVEL OF COMPETITION COMPARED TO OTHER PLACES YOU’VE RACED? “The level of competition and expertise here is incredible. The stuff you see behind the wheel when you’re watching other drivers compete, and what they do here is a level above any other form of racing you’ll ever see – the risks they take and the saves they make – but it’s not really fair to compare those guys to where I’m going. The drivers in the Australia V8 Supercar Series are very, very talented and very, very good. They’re elite as well, but it’s just a different discipline to what this oval racing is. It’s not fair to compare across different forms of motorsport, but to see what I see behind the wheel and to see the commitment and the risks and the talent level that it is on these big high-speed ovals, and the way it goes down is impressive to watch and be part of.”
DO YOU SEE COMING BACK AT ANY POINT? “I get asked that a lot, but I really don’t have any plans to come back at this point. You never obviously completely close the book like that, but I’m really focused and excited to be going to Australian V8 Supercar Series and I want to do that properly for Roger Penske and Dick Johnson and that’s going to be my focus.”