Ambrose still smarting over lost win in Sonoma
Marcos Ambrose is working on moving past the toughest day of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career after missing a golden opportunity to seize his first career victory at Infineon Raceway. Cutting his motor off to conserve fuel and it not starting again derailed a win for the Australian in Sonoma (Calif.) on Sunday.
|Ambrose leads eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson last Sunday|
Today, Ambrose candidly talked about the mishap on Showtime’s Inside NASCAR set with Brad Daugherty, Chris Myers, Randy Pemberton and Michael Waltrip.
“It stinks that we gave away our first victory,” said Ambrose, who is piloting the No. 47 Lance Toyota at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. “Leading the race, I turned the motor off under caution and couldn’t get it cranked back up. I gave away a golden opportunity with an unforced error - - my error. We were conserving fuel from the start because our fuel mileage numbers were not where they needed to be. We were good to go to the end, except for a green-white-checker finish. The only way we thought we would lose the race was fuel mileage. I’m not blaming NASCAR. I put myself in a bad situation. It was their judgment call and it is their house and their rules.”
“With the engine not firing again, it was a combination of things,” Ambrose continued. “The engine was hot, the fuel was sloshing around, we were on a hill and you can’t control the way the fuel flows through the carburetor. It was the first time it happened. I’ve learned from it. Sure, it makes you wonder who I need to be or what I need to do better. When you trip over yourself like that, it’s easy to get depressed and get bogged down with the pressures of racing. But, the way I look at it, I’ve got to keep going. It’s just a race and there’s one this weekend to look forward too. I’ve just got to stay relaxed, focused and remember what is important.”
The incident was unfortunate, but the JTG Daugherty Racing team is regrouping from the hard lesson learned.
“It’s a lesson learned and it will make our team stronger,” crew chief Frank Kerr said. “We went there with a plan and stuck with it. At the end of the race, we had the best car. We had been shutting the motor off every yellow to make sure we had enough fuel. It was a routine that we had done the whole race. Not sure what happened going up the hill and why it did that. It just wouldn’t start back up. We were trying to make sure we were there at the end if we were faced with green-white-checkers. It’s just unfortunate and we have to learn from it and go on to Loudon.”
Looking beyond the incident, Ambrose was proud of his JTG Daugherty Racing team and their determination on race day.
“I’m just really proud of my team to see them stand up like they did on Sunday,” Ambrose said. “Jimmie Johnson was faster than us at the start of the race, but my guys worked on the car and made it better than the No. 48 machine at the end of the race. They delivered on pit road and put us ahead of Jimmie out of the pits. We were able to put a gap between us and pull away.”
Team owners Jodi and Tad Geschickter along with Daugherty were also pleased with the team’s overall performance and feel like a win is around the corner for their organization.
“We’re not disappointed - - there’s something wrong if you are disappointed with a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,” said Brad Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing and five-time NBA All-Star. “We are happy with Marcos and tickled that he is driving for us. Marcos is an outstanding driver and I’m surprised he hasn’t already won a race. We’ve watched him excel at places like Bristol Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and other tracks. He’s going to win one soon.”