AMBROSE REMARKABLE SECOND FROM THE REAR IN MEXICO CITY Marcos Ambrose has driven the race of his life to pass more cars than any other driver on his way to second place in the Corona Mexico 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in...
AMBROSE REMARKABLE SECOND FROM THE REAR IN MEXICO CITY
Marcos Ambrose has driven the race of his life to pass more cars than any other driver on his way to second place in the Corona Mexico 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City today.
Ambrose achieved his best ever NASCAR finish today in the #59 Kingsford Hickory Ford Fusion in the drive of the day after coming through the field twice throughout the race.
The Australian qualified fourth for the 80-lap race but was forced to start from the rear of the field. Ambrose suffered from clutch problems in practice and opted to change the clutch for the race to ensure he finished the race, an adjustment that meant he started the race in 40th position, as cars are not to be worked on between qualifying and the start of the race.
Ambrose showed why he is one of the most formidable road course drivers in NASCAR by driving from the rear up into 23rd position at the start before the first caution of the day came out on lap three.
Ambrose was inside the top 20 when the first round of pit stops occurred, however this delivered a further setback for Ambrose. NASCAR ruled that members of Ambrose's JTG Racing pit crew had left the pit wall and entered pit lane too early and the 31-year-old was forced to complete a drive through penalty under green flag conditions, again sending him to the rear.
The Kingsford driver then set about regaining lost ground and again coming through the field. Ambrose made good progress and had a steady middle part of the race, making his final pit stop with 33 laps remaining for four new tires and fuel.
At a race restart with 26 laps remaining Ambrose made contact with Boris Said entering the first corner, causing the Kingsford car to run across the grass but maintain eighth position.
The ensuing caution saw Ambrose gain a position at the restart entering the first corner and continue to pick off cars one by one as the laps wore down.
Ambrose passed Patrick Carpentier in the Esses to gain third position with 13 laps remaining, then moved up to second with a move past Scott Pruett at the end of the long front straight entering the first corner with six laps to go.
Ambrose began the chase down leader Kyle Busch and was edging closer to Busch with every lap but in the end time ran out and the driver from Launceston, Australia finished second, within a second of Busch, remarkable after all the adversity thrown his way throughout the tough 80-lap event.
The finish is Ambrose's best NASCAR result, his previous best finish was third in two events in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Kansas and Nashville. Ambrose's previous best finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series was fourth at Memphis late last year.
This was Ambrose's second top 10 finish in Mexico from two starts at the twisting road course. Today's result was Ambrose's first top 10 result this season.
After the race Ambrose said that he thought he could have taken the lead from Busch within two laps, but that he was pleased to have taken second on a day where he and his #59 Kingsford team had to overcome challenge after challenge.
Ambrose rises to 13th in the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series standings, a jump of four positions, injecting a boost into Ambrose's 2008 championship campaign.
Marcos Ambrose - #59 Kingsford Hickory Ford Fusion
"We're really pleased. I feel like we had been battling all day. We had an overheating motor there at the end. We had to start at the back with a clutch problem and that was still there in the race and we had to watch that.
"Then we had to come from the back again because we miscalculated the fuel and we had an ignition stall. Then we had a penalty on pit lane and had to come from the back again. It had just been a day of fighting.
"I really want to first apologise to Boris on one of those restarts. I got into him and spun him out and ended his day. I just want to answer those questions now before they come up. I feel bad for him but our day has been fantastic and I'm really proud of my Kingsford guys.
"We fought all day and never gave up. I think if we had another two laps we would have had something for Kyle because he was really starting to go off. I'm proud of my finish. This is my best finish since I've been in NASCAR. I've got to be pleased."
Q: DID YOU MAKE A CONSCIENCE DECISION TODAY TO DRIVE LIKE THE TASMANIAN DEVIL?
"Yeah, in the whole, we've had a tough year. We really wanted to have a strong day today. You're not going to go and pass 43 cars 15 times like we did today without being aggressive. And you've got to be in this racing to try and come through. It was really tough racing. It's some of the hardest racing I've ever done there that last 20 laps. Then you've got Carl [Edwards] and Kyle [Busch] and Scott [Pruett], they're the best in the business.
"We're hanging on the best we can and trying to race. It's pretty awesome. I'll probably look back at this race as probably one of my best races in just having to fight all day. Everything was against us, but we fought all day and came through."
Q: I KNOW YOU APOLOGISED BUT BORIS SEEMED PRETTY INTENT ON GETTING REVENGE SOME DAY AND HE DID TALK TO YOUR CREW CHIEF.
"There's no point in getting in the crew chief's face because he's not driving the car. I'm going to ring him on Monday and hopefully sleep will help him just think through things a little bit more. I value Boris' friendship and he is a fantastic racer.
"I didn't mean to do it. I don't know what happened, to be honest with you. I had pretty square contact and all of a sudden, he's up speed and off to the left. I caught his rear bumper bar in mine. I don't know what happened, it wasn't intentional.
"Racing happens. Look at the deal last year with Robby Gordon. Bad stuff happens out there and it's unfortunate. I'll apologise to him to his face. I'll apologize to him today in front of the media. I can't take it back. I wish I didn't do it. I don't know how it happened and that's all I can really say.
"If he wants to come talk to me about it, I'd like to sit down and just find some common ground. It's just unfortunate that that stuff happens but that's what racing is all about. That's what fans turn out for."
Q: IS THIS FINISH SOMETHING YOU CAN CARRY ON?
"I hope so. It's been a good day for us. I'm really proud of the Kingsford guys. Another two laps, I think we would have had the win. I was really closing on Kyle. I was either going to spin out or win because I was going to give it everything I had.
"If I could have gotten within shooting distance, I was going to shoot and try to make a run at him. I'm just really proud of my guys. We're fighting in this championship. We're fighting to stay alive. I feel like I'm a part of NASCAR. I just really, desperately want to do well. Today we did well and we've just got to keep carrying it on. Who knows what is going to happen in the future, but hopefully this will be a catalyst for better things."
AMBROSE ON THE INCIDENT WITH BORIS SAID:
"If I could take it back, I would," said Ambrose.
"I didn't mean to get into Boris; I really like him. He's a great racer and I've idolised him in the past and I still do. If I could wind the clock back, I would. It's just hard racing up there. He checked up in the middle of the corner. I was getting something from behind and I wanted to defend my position. Our bumper bars just hooked and it just turned him around. It was just the craziest thing I've seen. I feel bad for him. I can't take it back.
"We're proud of our day. We've driven well and we've got a team behind us. We're back in the points and we're having a great day."