Watkins Glen: Marcos Ambrose preview

ROAD COURSE DOUBLE DUTY FOR AMBROSE AT THE GLEN Marcos Ambrose will have two opportunities to put the disappointment of last weekend behind him when the Australian races in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series events at...

ROAD COURSE DOUBLE DUTY FOR AMBROSE AT THE GLEN

Marcos Ambrose will have two opportunities to put the disappointment of last weekend behind him when the Australian races in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series events at Watkins Glen International in New York state this weekend.

Ambrose led 27 laps last weekend in Montreal and was clearly the fastest car in the race, but when the race was red flagged due to heavy rain Ambrose sat in third position as a result of a drive-through penalty, denying him the chance to retake the lead and grab his first NASCAR victory.

This weekend Ambrose gets a 'double opportunity' to repeat that road course form at the 11-turn Watkins Glen circuit. Ambrose will drive the same #59 STP Ford Fusion that he piloted with such success at Montreal in the Zippo 200 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Watkins Glen, looking to leap into the Top 10 in the series standings.

Ambrose is on course to collect his 10th consecutive Top 20 finish in the Nationwide Series this weekend and sits just 29 points out of ninth position in points after 23 races.

Ambrose will also be focused on qualifying for his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when he aims to qualify the #21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion of Wood Brothers Racing for the Centurion Boats at the Glen.

In his last start for the Wood Brothers, Ambrose turned heads by qualifying in seventh position and ran as high as second place before transmission failure ended his day.

Since then Ambrose also impressed in his Sprint Cup debut on an oval, finishing 22nd in the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the #47 Little Debbie Ford Fusion of JTG Racing.

DOMINATION ACKNOWLEDGED ...

Marcos Ambrose's domination of the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada last weekend was acknowledged when the post-race contingency awards were announced.

Ambrose, who collected US$68,043 for third place in the rain-shortened event, was awarded the WIX Filters Lap Leader Award, the Mobil 1 Command Performance Award and the Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race. Ambrose scored the highest driver rating score of the day with 143.5, set 15 fastest laps and was in the top 15 for every lap run.

Q & A with MARCOS AMBROSE

Q: TWO ROAD RACES BACK-TO-BACK; IS THIS YOUR COMFORTABLE PART OF THE SEASON?

"These two races here feel like I'm on a Mediterranean holiday. Because the stress and strains of an oval track for me where I feel like I haven't quite mastered the trade, where here [on a road course] I feel comfortable in my surroundings. I know that if I do my job as I should that we should have a decent day."

Q: IT FEELS LIKE A HOLIDAY, BUT YOU'RE RACING IN BOTH THE NATIONWIDE AND CUP RACES.

"Well, that's right but I know road racing and I have a confidence in myself that I should do okay if I could just do what I do well. It's nice to have that feeling of security going into qualifying. It's a pressure deal, you only get one lap in the Cup deal, but it's as easy as it's going to get when you're trying to do it the way we're doing it.

"It feels good. I enjoy it for the experience. I like Watkins Glen. It's a good, fun place to be. Hopefully, the weekend goes well."

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT WATKINS GLEN?

"It's just a flowing track. It's got a lot of history to it. It's known as one of America's finest race tracks, as far as road racing goes. It's got a lot of character. The corners have good banking on most of them. The track is in a beautiful location in America. It's just a nice place to be. The fans, by the looks of it, they have a history of going there. They really know what they're doing when the get there and who they're following. They're fairly well-educated fans, too. Watkins Glen is a unique race track and the people go there to watch road racing which is nice too."

Q: ARE ROAD COURSES MORE STRATEGY RACES OR SPEED RACES? WILL THE FASTEST DRIVER WIN OR THE BEST HANDLING DRIVER?

"At Watkins Glen, you've got to have a really good car to make it work. I feel like car handling plays more a part of Watkins Glen than it does at Canada or Mexico just because it's a handling-style race track.

"So, brakes aren't an issue there at Watkins Glen. It's not as technical. It just really comes down to really being able to run the high-speed corners without getting yourself in trouble and carrying momentum.

"It's a handling race track. I think the fastest car will probably win the race, where as in Canada and Mexico, sometimes it's not the case. Strategy comes more into play at those other two venues."

Q: CAN YOU BE TOO LOOSE ON A ROAD COURSE?

"Oh, yeah, you're loose all the time. You've got to set them up loose to be able to run. It's no different from oval racing to road-course racing. You've got to let the car do the work for you. If you're putting a steering wheel into it, it's not as fast. It's easy to make the car too loose, for sure."

Q: COMPARED TO BEING TIGHT?

"Each corner is unique and different. You've just got to get a balance out of the whole lap. Some corners you're going to be tight even when you complain about being loose, there are some corners that you're still not going to have enough front grip on.

"It's a compromise on how you want it. It's a very personal thing setting up a road course. What some drivers call loose, someone else might call balanced. It's different driving style and how you want go about it."

Q: DO YOU DRIFT ON A ROAD COURSE?

"Yeah, I try to drift the car as much as I can. I generally set the car up to be a little tighter than most and a little stiffer than most so I can have the confidence to drift in the corner well. I try to get a nice forward slide going if I can. I feel like that's the best way I get around a road course."

Q: CAN YOU DRAFT IN A ROAD COURSE?

"No, it plays no part, really. What you gain in draft, you loose by being conservative on the brakes trying to stay off of them. It's not going to come into play."

-credit: jtgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Gilles Villeneuve , Marcos Ambrose
Teams Wood Brothers Racing