MONTREAL -- Under normal circumstances, a third-place finish would be reason to celebrate, but not after Ambrose had the No. 59 STP Ford in the lead for 27 of 48 laps at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The race was the first time in NASCAR's 60-year...
MONTREAL -- Under normal circumstances, a third-place finish would be reason to celebrate, but not after Ambrose had the No. 59 STP Ford in the lead for 27 of 48 laps at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
The race was the first time in NASCAR's 60-year history cars were fitted with rain tires. Torrential rain turned the 14-turn road course into treacherous water slide, prompting officials to finally call the race 26 laps short of its scheduled finish.
That cut short any attempt by Ambrose to erase a speeding penalty on pit road. "I'm bitterly disappointed," Ambrose said. "I feel like we really dominated today's race.I made an error down pit lane; I just couldn't see the pit exit and we sped.I went down and had a look at it and it's still hard to see.I'm just really disappointed. I feel like the race was ours today and I tripped over myself.I'm real sorry for my team and STP and JTG Daugherty Racing. It's a shame."
Rain, darkness and foggy conditions made it difficult for everyone to see. That's why NASCAR threw the checkered flag early. Ambrose, a two-time Ford V8 Supercar Series champion from Australia, had raced in the rain before -- but nothing like the conditions he faced on Saturday. "It was treacherous, it was tricky but I think all the drivers kept of the race track for the most part and we got a race in, which is important. I think to NASCAR's credit for not running rain races very often, that they did a pretty good job," Ambrose said.
"We had a great day going; I just sped down pit lane.Actually, I took off too early. I couldn't see the end of pit lane, I just couldn't see it.The line on the race track, I couldn't see it.I couldn't see the cone. I waited until I got passed (Scott) Pruett and counted to three and took off and I must have just jumped the line but 20 or 30 feet.I feel robbed about it, to be honest with you."
A year ago, Ambrose led coming to the white flag lap but was knocked off course by another driver. "I feel like Montreal owes us, yeah," said crew chief Gary Cogswell. "We've been in position to win and had the best car twice and couldn't close the deal. "There's always next year."
Ambrose agreed with NASCAR for stopping the race, even if it meant he couldn't use the final 26 laps to catch eventual race winner Ron Fellows.
"They couldn't keep the race going, it was too wet," he said. "I commend NASCAR for making the call to stop that race because it was getting dangerous out there.We had a lot of car, whether (second-place) Patrick (Carpentier) and the 5 (Fellows) had to stop one more time, I don't know. If they didn't, we would race them hard to the end. We still feel like we're in a good position.
"I guess, I could be mad at NASCAR, but I'm not. I'm mad at myself for making a mistake. It's hard to see that cone, I guess a lot of guys got penalized for doing the same thing but it's just the way it goes."
Ambrose was fast during dry conditions as well. He posted the fastest lap during the final practice session on Friday. The team will get a chance for redemption next Saturday on the road course at Watkins Glen International.
"The thing I've learned for the next road course is I don't want to race in the rain again," Ambrose said, finally cracking gregarious smile. "That win still is alluding me. I guess if you keep knocking on the door, it will come. I feel comfortable out there. I feel like I belong. If we keep this up, the win will fall our way."