MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Starting Position: 3rd How was your qualifying run today? "It was great until Scott Speed just bumped me off the front row. We had a chance at our first front row spot...
No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
Starting Position: 3rd
How was your qualifying run today?
"It was great until Scott Speed just bumped me off the front row. We had a chance at our first front row spot and just lost it there on the last couple cars that ran. We're really pleased it's about a second faster than what I qualified here last year. It's pretty much got the same springs underneath so it just shows you how far I've come as a driver and how far we've come as a team. I really didn't know how I was going to stack up this weekend, this track was my worst of last season. I was worried about coming down here, but I guess it worked out well and we had a great draw for qualifying. I drew 35th and you can't do much better than that in those conditions. We made the most of it."
How do you view Jimmie Johnson at the start of the race?
"I will be following him into turn one because I guarantee that he knows the right line around this place. I will just try to fall in behind him and try to stay at the front to the first pit stop. He's got a halo bar around his car this weekend and you just don't want to be the guy that takes his championship away. He deserves it and he's clearly dominated the last four years and I just don't want to do the wrong thing by him so I will be following him into turn one, but I won't be on his bumper I will be a safe distance behind and letting him do his thing."
Where have you made your greatest gains this year?
"There isn't one thing that you can pinpoint to say that's what gave me half-a-second. I think inner confidence is very important, feeling that you belong in the sport, knowing that you can save a car when it gets out of shape because it gets out of shape about four or five times a lap. You just have to believe in yourself and have your crew believe in you and believe in what you're telling them as far as feedback goes. Just learning to drive the heck out of these race cars because they don't want to go as fast as we push them. You just have to really be on your game. There's no where to hide out there in the Cup series. All the cars are very good, the drivers are very good and the competition is very high."
How much of a factor was going out in cooler temperatures? "No doubt it helps. If we had gone out in the top-10, we wouldn't be up here. This practice and qualifying time is critical. Some tracks it doesn't matter as much when you qualify early in the afternoon, but when you have the sun going down like it does here in the South fast, the track cools off a lot. We all know a cool track has faster lap times."
What are your plans for the off season? "My off season started yesterday - I left the house, locked it up and I'm not going back to it. Basically, I'm flying out from Miami on Monday straight back to Australia. Going to hang out with my friends and family and just get my mind and body back in shape. I've got some TV stuff to do down there. I've got an American film crew coming down to do some filming during testing in Tasmania, which is exciting. I'm going to go to the last round of the Australian V8 Super Car Series and do some television work as well for Speed. We've got a little bit of stuff to do, but primarily it's just about getting back home, forgetting about turning left for a while and get back to normal living. I've got a little townhouse in Lanxess, my hometown and I like going down and getting the milk and paper in the mornings from the local store. Just being a normal, average Joe. It's a crazy world we live in and sometimes you just need a moment to reflect on what you're all about and I use my off season well. I really try to get back, get my feet on the ground and not move for a while."
How much racing should you be able to do with Jimmie Johnson? "I try to race people hard, but fair. I'm just conscious of the fact the way the points are and the way the Chase is run and everything. With the exception of Jimmie (Johnson), you don't win the Cup, you avoid mistakes to win the Cup. You could see with the disaster he had at Texas, how easily it came undone. You don't want to be the guy that does that to him, he's not going to do it on his own, most likely he's so talented. It's not that we don't race him if I'm faster, I'm going to pass him. You just have to treat everyone with respect because of what they've done and where they're at in the points. You know that what goes around comes around and if I get myself in a position like he's in, I would like to be treated a little kindly as well. It's a fine line between looking out for yourself and looking at the bigger picture."
Would you consider running at the V8 Super Car final?
"I tried to, but they wouldn't give me a license. I got turned down - I had sponsors in play and everything ready to go. I was going to go back and do it this year. The last race is in two weeks, it's at a street track around Sydney. I thought it would be very cool to go back and see old friends and have a race or two and they wouldn't let me in. The series is different down there, they have franchises. The teams own a contract to race, a Racing Enterprises Contract or something. There's 30 of them, one of them went broke so they didn't renew it. One of them the series bought back and kept in their back pocket so they were reduced to 28 so I wanted to buy the 29th license for that one event, which the series owned and the series said they didn't want to do it."
-credit: toyoto motorsports