FIRST WIN PAINFULLY SLIPS FROM GRASP OF AMBROSE - CLASSIFIED THIRD For the second-consecutive year Marcos Ambrose has dominated the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve only to be robbed of victory, finishing third in Montreal,...
FIRST WIN PAINFULLY SLIPS FROM GRASP OF AMBROSE - CLASSIFIED THIRD
For the second-consecutive year Marcos Ambrose has dominated the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve only to be robbed of victory, finishing third in Montreal, Canada today.
Last year it was Robby Gordon who robbed Ambrose of his first NASCAR victory in Montreal, today it was the weather and a pit lane speeding violation which cost the Australian his first trip to victory lane.
Ambrose led 27 laps and was clearly the fastest car in the race, but when the race was red flagged with 26 laps remaining, Ambrose was in third position behind two cars that still needed to pit again if the race ran to full distance.
Ambrose qualified in third position in the #59 STP Ford Fusion, but was into second place on lap two as he passed Max Papis entering the hairpin.
In a moment of NASCAR history, on lap eight NASCAR officials red flagged the race so all teams could change to wet weather tyres, fit windscreen wipers and connect rear rain lights, the first time this has ever occurred in a NASCAR championship division.
After several laps behind the pace car the race resumed on lap 14 and Ambrose immediately passed Scott Pruett into Turn 1 in the slippery conditions to take the lead.
Ambrose then proceeded to demolish the opposition, pulling a 3.4 second lead in just one lap and driving away from the pack. Cautions on lap 21 and lap 30 removed his advantage but again the 31-year-old simply drove away.
Even an off-track excursion on lap 38 could not cost him the lead, although it was reduced from 4.5 seconds to less than a second from Jacques Villeneuve. A lap later it was back out to 3.8 seconds.
On lap 41, just over half-race distance, Ambrose made his way to pit lane from first position to make his one and only scheduled pit stop of the race. Ambrose was deemed to have exceeded the pit lane speed limit, accelerating too early at pit exit, and was forced to perform a drive through penalty two laps later.
Even after serving the penalty, Ambrose was in third position with the two cars ahead of him, Ron Fellows and Patrick Carpentier, both on a different pit strategy that would have seen them have to pit again.
On lap 46 a caution was called due to heavy rain. Two laps later the treacherous conditions saw NASCAR red flag the race, handing Fellows his fourth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory.
Ambrose, who had led 27 laps and was clearly the fastest car on the day, was forced to settle for third position.
At the same race last year Ambrose led 37 laps before Gordon deliberately crashed into him with two laps remaining. Creating one of the controversies of the NASCAR season.
Despite the bitter disappointment for both Ambrose and his JTG Daugherty Racing team, third place lifted Ambrose closer to the top 10 in the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series points standings after 23 of 35 races.
Ambrose will be back in the #59 STP Ford Fusion next weekend, again on a road course, for Race 24 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Watkins Glen International in New York state.
Ambrose will perform 'double duty' next weekend, also aiming to qualify the #21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion of Wood Brothers Racing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
"We've dominated this race twice now and not closed the deal," said Ambrose.
"I'm bitterly disappointed and I feel a little robbed. It doesn't feel too good.
"If I did speed in pit lane, I just couldn't see a thing there so when I saw the flashing lights at the end of pit lane I just went.
"It's just heart-wrenching for STP, Kingsford and Clorox, our whole JTG Daugherty Racing team and all the fans and friends back in Australia.
"I just feel like we are jinxed at the moment because we have come so close but still haven't got a win.
"I'll take it if we were speeding in pit lane, but it's just so disappointing because we had this race."
-credit: bam media