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Tag:Marcos Ambrose
Posted on: February 25, 2012 1:48 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 5:02 pm
 

2012 Daytona 500 predictions

Daytona 500 Winner

Pete Pistone's pick

Kyle Busch -- I’ve been coming to Daytona since I was a kid and watching NASCAR racing pretty much my entire life. Never have I seen a display like the one Kyle Busch put on in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, saving his car three different times when it was completely sideways and somehow coming back from that shower of sparks to win the race. Say what you want about his personality or his behavior but it’s impossible to argue that Busch is one of the most talented drivers the sport has ever seen. He is very determined to put the controversy of last year behind and focus on winning races and the Sprint Cup championship in 2012. That quest begins this weekend and Busch will get the year off on the highest of notes with a win in “The Great American Race.”

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Carl Edwards -- I could really name just about any driver from the Roush Fenway camp as they've been very impressive during Speedweeks. Its drivers have been at or near the top of the speed charts during most practices, Edwards and his teammate Greg Biffle were top 2 in qualifying and third teammate Kenseth won Gatorade Duel 2, an event Biffle led for a race-high 40 laps. But while championships may elude Edwards, the Daytona 500 might just land in his lap. If Edwards can pull it off, he'd be the 18th pole-sitter to win the 500 and the first since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

Dark Horse

Pete Pistone's pick

Marcos Ambrose -- The entire Ford contingent has been fast at Daytona since it rolled off the haulers at the start of Speedweeks. Ambrose is among those who have stayed near the top of speed chart in practice sessions and the Richard Petty Motorsports driver also factored into both the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel outcomes. The popular Australian feels at home in NASCAR after finding his way the last few seasons and many believe he’ll win his first oval track race in 2012 in addition to being a powerhouse on the road courses. That victory could come on Sunday with Ambrose giving his fans both in the U.S. as well as “down under” something to celebrate.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Trevor Bayne -- The defending Daytona 500 champion as a darkhorse? I may be stretching this a bit, but I haven't heard anybody giving him much of a chance to repeat. He's been decent during Speedweeks, but remains somewhat of an afterthought behind the Cup regulars. He's flying under the radar, but has the car to pull of the win again. At the very least, you can say he has experience winning NASCAR's biggest race. How wild would it be if Bayne were to make it 2 for 2 in the Daytona 500?

Surprise Top 10

Pete Pistone's pick

Dave Blaney -- The former World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion had a guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500 thanks to his finish inside the Top 35 last year. But after team owner Tommy Baldwin worked out an agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing to transfer those points to Danica Patrick, Blaney had to race his way into the 500 in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel. Last season the underdog turned a lot of heads with stellar restrictor plate track performances at both Daytona and Talladega so Blaney has skills in the draft. He may also have a little extra motivation as well on Sunday after the off-season points maneuvering and despite being a David against the Goliaths of the series; a finish inside the first ten is not out of the question.

Brian De Los Santos' pick

Aric Almirola -- It's easy to forget that Almirola is the newest driver of the No. 43 car, replacing A.J. Allmendinger, who jumped to Penske Racing to fill the No. 22 seat vacated by Kurt Busch. He definitely has speed as he topped the fourth practice session and was second in the fifth session. Another driver with Ford power under the hood, don't be surprised to see him running near the front on Sunday.

Quick picks

  Pistone De Los Santos
Better Busch brother finish Kyle Kurt
Will Danica finish on lead lap No No
Over/Under Caution Flags (8) Under Under
Over/Under Caution Laps (25) Over Over
Over/Under Leaders (20) Over Under
Over/Under Lead Changes (50) Under Over

Daytona Speedweeks


Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:05 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 1:21 pm
 

Team Review/Preview: Richard Petty Motorsports

By Pete Pistone



Image Detail
("The King" was all smiles at the end of the season but Richard Petty Motorsports' future is fuzzy for 2012)


Review

Impressive was the word to describe the 2011 Richard Petty Motorsports effort. 

The very real possibility of the organization being forced to close its doors ended the 2010 campaign as the ill-fated deal with co-owner George Gillett blew up in a financial mess. 

But Petty was able to put together a group of investors including Medallion Financial Group and DGB Investments to keep the team afloat. 

There were tough decisions to be made and RPM was forced to cut back from a four-car operation to running just a pair of teams in 2011. 

But the end result was a tandem of Marcos Ambrose and A.J. Allmendinger that gave the team a victory and brought RPM back to respectability. 

“I’m 73 years old – I’m not ready to start a new life,” Petty said when he took over full control of the team that bears his name at the beginning of the season. “So I will hang on to what we’ve got going. … I live on what I’m doing now from the standpoint that this is what I love to do; this is what I want to do.

“I want to be involved. The more I can be involved, the better I feel. I’ve been doing this since I was 11 years old. This is a lifestyle. And I didn’t want to change my lifestyle, so basically I did everything I could to keep that going.”


Ambrose came over from JTG Daugherty Racing to pilot the No. 9 Ford and rewarded Petty’s decision to add the popular Australian to his stable with a win at Watkins Glen in August.

It was also vindication for Ambrose who gave away a chance to win the previous year at Infineon Raceway when he shut off his engine to save fuel while leading and could not come back up to speed costing him the victory.

“I’ve felt a lot of weight of expectation and pressure to win and sometimes that clouds judgment,” Ambrose said after passing Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski on a green-white-checkered restart. “I know I’ve tripped myself once or twice trying to get to victory lane here in the Cup series.

“It’s not that I was worried, but the word ‘choke’ was starting to creep into the back of my mind.”

The road racing ace added solid runs at several oval track races throughout the season to end up nineteenth in the point standings and score five top five and twelve top ten finishes.

Allmendinger knocked on the door of his first career Sprint Cup Series victory several times and came close to joining his teammate Ambrose in victory lane.

He wasn’t able to accomplish that goal but was still impressive in his own right finishing fifteenth in the standings and chalking up ten top tens along the way.

“I feel like at a lot of race tracks we’re pretty solid. I just want to be consistent,” Allmendinger said in review of his year. “Our biggest problem is that the race tracks we’ve been bad at we’ve been really bad at. I just think we need to get more consistent overall.

“If we can go into the offseason and figure out where we need to work on – the flatter race tracks, the mile-and-a-halves, Kentucky, Chicago, Kansas, California – if we can get better at those tracks, I think we can be a legitimate top ten team and then from there it’s just about slowly getting better after that.”

However things changed dramatically from that view only weeks into the offseason.
 

Preview

RPM’s plans for the 2012 season are very much up in the air.

Best Buy took its sponsorship to Roush Fenway Racing and in the aftermath Allmendinger was released to take the ride at Penske Pacing’s Shell/Pennzoil Dodge.

While Ambrose is under contract to return in a Stanley Tools fully sponsored No. 9 entry, RPM needs to find a replacement sponsor in order to field the iconic No. 43.

“Our plan remains to run a two-car team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012, and we are continuing down that path,” chief executive officer Brian Moffitt said. “We believe there are several very talented drivers who are still available and would embrace the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the legendary No. 43 Ford Fusion. We continue to move forward and are optimistic about the future of this race team.”

The team is reportedly in talks to sign David Ragan, who was squeezed out of Roush when UPS scaled its sponsorship back and lost out on the Penske ride. However unless RPM can bring in corporate backing, it’s unclear whether the organization can field a second car out of its own pocket.
 

Outlook

Twelve months later Richard Petty Motorsports is right back in the middle of uncertainty. After coming from the brink of extinction last year at this time, the team now faces the daunting task of finding millions of dollars in sponsorship just weeks away from the start of a new season. While RPM remaining in the Ford camp to continue its alliance with Roush assures the team will again have competitive equipment, it’s difficult to gauge the 2012 performance until more questions about the organization’s future are answered.

 
More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:32 am
 

Video of the Day: Ambrose, Vickers crash

Posted by Pete Pistone

Marcos Ambrose was involved in an incident with Team Red Bull teammates Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway which as expected led to some high emotion in the aftermath:




 
Posted on: August 19, 2011 3:52 pm
 

Marcos Ambrose Michigan comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Marcos Ambrose is still riding high after his win last Monday at Watkins Glen. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver met the media Friday at Michigan International Speedway and was brimming with confidence:

TALK ABOUT WHAT THIS WEEK HAS BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?
“It has been a huge week. I actually was all about winning the race to win the race and didn’t realize the repercussions of the victory. In Australia and where I am from, Tasmania, sent out a press release congratulating me on the win, so that was cool to see. It must have been a slow news week in Australia on the sports side because it got a big run down there. There were a lot of great comments and good media. The biggest thing is the reach out from fellow drivers and people inside NASCAR that texted me and told me how happy they were that I won. It meant a lot to be respected by my peers. That is the biggest thing I took out of it, the outpouring of respect of the fellow drivers who I look up to. It means a lot. It was good to get the King in victory lane and get the win off my back. To get the first one is pretty tough. I am looking forward to getting a few more.” 

WHAT WERE THEY DOING IN LAUNCESTON, TASMANIA? WE HAVE HEARD IT WAS A PRETTY BIG PARTY.
“I know my friends were drinking a lot of beer at very inappropriate times. At 2:00 on a Tuesday morning they were all drunk as skunks and texting me like crazy. My mom, she was really proud and my Dad was down there too and jet lagged because they stayed up all Sunday night to watch the race and then they had to do it on Monday because of the rain. I think they were sleep deprived and merry on the Australian lager. It was a great news story and got a lot of press down there. I did a lot of NASCAR 101 during the week with the media outlets that don’t normally follow NASCAR and follow the sport. It was fun to teach the casual Australian race fan about what NASCAR is.” 

HOW DOES THIS WIN RANK AMONG SOME OF YOUR V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIPS?
“A couple of wins really stand out. I won a European race against some really good talented drivers and that sticks out as one big race in my memory that was big to win. I guess this would be the biggest win of my career no doubt. Winning a championship down home was special, slightly different than winning a race, but this is the highlight of my career no doubt about it.” 

CARL SAID HE ISN’T GOING TO HELP YOU OUT GETTING THROUGH CUSTOMS BUT AS A MEMBER OF THE FORMER COMMONWEALTH; MAYBE YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT PLAN?
“He better learn his history because I think Canadians and Australians are a lot closer than Canadians and Australians.” 

DID YOU HEAR FROM ANYONE AFTER YOUR WIN THAT SURPRISED YOU?
“It was great to see Robin Pemberton and Mike Helton come into victory lane. They shook my hand and that was pretty cool. I look up at those guys. They run the sport and they are about as powerful as men can be in this game. For them to acknowledge that I exist and to congratulate me was really special. Matt Kenseth, who has been great to me this year. Smoke as well. When I first came into the Cup Series, Smoke let me know what I was doing wrong quite often. He would come into my window during practice or after races and was quite vocal about what I needed to do to be a more complete driver. On the back side of that when I got my win, he was a guy saying, ‘You’ve got this, don’t mess it up, do what you do’. That was pretty awesome.”
 
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA YOU HAVE HEARD, ‘OKAY, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WIN ON AN OVAL NOW’?
“Yeah, at least they stopped talking about Sonoma, so I can put that away and we can start working on that oval thing. Hopefully this week we can fix that too. We have been close. I have run great at some tracks I didn’t expect to like Bristol, Dover, Charlotte, Texas and Vegas. We are going back for a second time with this team now to tracks that we have a database on and some history together. I think that will make a big difference to us. Hopefully we can stop from talking about that. I need to win on ovals; I want to win on ovals. That would finish the story for me. If I could win an oval race, it would be the crowning moment in my cruise through NASCAR. It is the one thing that is missing from what I can tell.”                           
THERE WERE SOME AUSSIES OUTSIDE THE MEDIA CENTER MONDAY WITH A HUGE FLAG. DID YOU GET TO MEET THEM?
“I did yeah. I think some of them were New Zealanders that were just on the gravy train, trying to pretend they were Australian (laughter). I met them after I got to the motor home. They were waiting for me and that was awesome to see. Who would have thought that at Watkins Glen there would be Australian race fans cheering me on? It’s pretty cool to watch it all happen and I think from the feedback I get from Twitter and Facebook and all the website stuff that the drivers and I do, I am getting a lot of feedback from people saying they came to this race or that race and I can see it more and more now. I see them hanging off the fence during the driver parade. A lot of Australians are tuning into NASCAR and starting to appreciate the sport.” 

CARL HAD TALKED ABOUT WHAT YOU HAD TO GIVE UP TO COME RUN IN CUP, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?
“It is like anybody who has a shakeup in their life. Sometimes you have to start again. I don’t regret any decisions I’ve made. I am pleased it has worked out. Even if it hadn’t worked out, at least I would have been on the front porch in the rocking chair thinking that at least I had a go. I don’t want to be a guy who thinks he can, I want to be a guy who knows he can’t. I keep trying and keep trying new stuff. It is cool that Carl recognizes that. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a good life and I am having a good life. I am one of the lucky ones who has made a career of something he loves.”

WHAT TYPE OF EMOTIONAL LIFT OR WEIGHT OFF OF YOU WAS LAST WEEK’S WIN?
“Huge. The one regret I have is that I wasn’t able to get Toyota and JDR Daugherty to victory lane on the road course. We put a lot of effort into it and I feel I missed an opportunity at Sonoma. It is one of those regrets I will carry with me the whole way, to the end of my career. I had chances last year and didn’t make the most of them and didn’t get to help those who helped me make it to the Cup series. What can you do? You can’t go backwards and let that hold you back. You have to keep moving forward and I shook it up last year again with another high risk decision. JDG and Toyota and everybody, I had a contract to run through the end of this year and I felt like I was stale and needed to make a change, otherwise I wasn’t going to get the most out of myself. I jumped into a mess over there at RPM and realized it was probably higher risk than I imagined in the first place, but it worked out. Here we are today celebrating a win. It is great it did work out, but there were a lot of weeks there that I thought I made a really bad decision.”


More NASCAR coverage
Posted on: August 15, 2011 5:26 pm
 

Marcos Ambrose, Todd Parrott post Glen comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Monday's Watkins Glen race winner Marcos Ambrose and crew chief Todd Parrott discussed their big day with the media following the race:

TODD PARROTT: Yeah, it was just an incredible day. From the time that we unloaded this race car off the truck on Friday, it was fast, and you know, we were one of the -- the fastest car in the first practice. We elected to work on our race stuff, work on the balance on our race car and not really worried that much about setting a fast time for qualifying. But knowing that Marcos was good here and that he would be able to have a pretty good time, we weren't really that worried about it.           

We really focused on the race and then worked on some more race stuff starting the second practice, switched over in qualifying and had a great car. And then today just -- it's crazy because you have a rain delay, and you have rain coming and you have all these scenarios and all these things that go through my head for two days. Can't sleep from worrying about is it going to rain at halfway, do they do this, do we do that, but we had a plan coming here after we saw what our fuel mileage and that type of stuff on Friday, and we stuck with our guns, and the rest of it, we made our pit stops, the cautions fell, and everything worked out today.           

The big guy upstairs was looking out after us, and it all worked out. Just happy to get this 9 Stanley Ford Fusion team back in victory lane. It's been a while for me, 2005 with Dale Jarrett, so to get Marcos his first win in the Cup Series is something very special for me that I'll remember for a long time. Just for Richard Petty Motorsports, the things they went through in 2010, and to come back, people would not give up.           

We had two of the main owners here today, Doug Bergeron and Andy Murstein were here sitting on the pit box with us, and I told those guys back earlier in the year, just hang in there, the win will come. And today we finally got it done, and I'm just -- like I say, I'm just happy to be a part of Richard Petty Motorsports and Ford Racing Team and everything that went on today at Watkins Glen.           

I remember being a kid here with Rusty Wallace back in the day in victory lane when it was the Bud at the Glen. So it's a special day for me. It's a place that I've never won at, so I can add this to my bucket list.           

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, just a dream day. The sacrifices you make, we all make to get here, Todd and all the team, the Petty family, my family to get here, to be a contender in the Cup Series, to finally get to victory lane, it just is a dream come true for me. I've traveled halfway around the world and dragged my kids and my wife with me, and I kept telling them I was good, but until you can win in the Cup Series you can't really put that stamp on it.

I've tried for two and a half years now to get to victory lane, and I just have to thank Todd for giving me the chance. We're getting on great as a team. We're all blending well. We understand each other. We're good friends and have respect for each other, and it's very important when you get days like this where you can rely on -- I can rely on Todd to make good judgment calls on the box, and he can rely on me to go out there and do my job.           

Awesome day. We just dedicate it to Mrs. Petty. She's doing it a little tough down at home. We wish her the best and dedicate this win to her.           

This time last year I didn't know what I was going to be doing. I didn't know I was going to be in the Cup Series. Took some chances, was on the roller coaster with the whole Petty team when it went through the changes the end of last year, and to get into victory lane is just a dream come true on behalf of Ford and Stanley and deWalt and all the other partners that make this 9 team run. I've just got to thank them and hopefully we can get back to victory lane again soon.           

I think this might open the box for me get a few more. I've felt a lot of weight and expectation and pressure to win, and sometimes that clouds judgment, and I know I've pressured myself once or twice trying to get to victory lane here in the Cup Series, and not that I was worried, but the word "choke" was starting to creep into the back of my mind.           

We survived today. We fought our way back to the front. We had a late race restart. You know, fought and gouged our way to the front and got the win, just a dream day, and very thankful for the opportunity that I've got to be here and that I've made the most of it today.            

Q. Marcos, I remember talking to you at Martinsville last year. Can you talk about the emotions you went through? It seems like you've kind of helped save Richard Petty Motorsports and they helped save you, as well.           

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, there was a time where I was sitting around the boardroom table and I was the only one there. I mean, who knew what was going to happen. It was completely out of my hands. Richard Petty and his team around him and with the help of Doug Bergeron and others have just -- Andy Murstein, saved this team. To see it pare down from four to two, get rebuilt, I think it's helped us. I think it helped all of us that have been through it to have the glue. We know what we went through, we're thankful for what we got, and we're now helping rebuild Richard Petty Motorsports back to where they want to be.           

There were days, weeks where I was very anxious, but you've got to roll the dice sometimes and be patient and turn the phone off, play golf for a while, and it all worked out.           

Q. It might have been hyperbole, but your teammate Carl Edwards said you could win a Formula 1 championship; you know something about that. Are you really that good? I know you're good, but you seem to be more mature this year than you were last year. How good are you?           

MARCOS AMBROSE: I've got no idea, but it feels pretty good to be in victory lane. And for Carl to say that, I appreciate it. I tried to get to Formula 1 and didn't make it. If I have a chance to do it again, you know, I might be too old.           

But I love racing. I'm a hobby racer. I do it because I love it, and I'm lucky enough to get paid, and I'm a historian. I love old school racing, I love knowing about the old style race cars and the drivers from back in the day, and I'm just -- I have a passion for the sport, and I think it helps me on the racetrack. I'm a good student. I watch others around me and try to do better.           

We now need to win on the ovals. I've won on a road course in Sprint Cup Series, it's awesome, but for me now the next big challenge is Michigan coming up next week and Bristol the week after that because I want to win badly on those, and I'm trying hard to work out the missing link between myself and guys like Carl who can win on those ovals consistently.           

And who knows, I'm going to keep trying. I'm totally dedicated to NASCAR. It's what I want to do, it's where I want to be. It's the best sport in the world, and I'm very lucky to be doing what I'm doing.           

Does that answer your question? I've got no idea how good I am.           

TODD PARROTT: He's great.            

Q. Before the last caution came out, Kyle was able to gap you and maintain it. Were you like, oh, here we go again?           

MARCOS AMBROSE: No, I had a run at him, and I had a couple chances, and he locked up a tire and I missed a shift and locked up my tires and got all frazzled. So was cooling everything back down to have one more shot at him. I knew the laps were winding down, but he was struggling. He was fighting his car. I could see that he was really loose up over the esses. I was going to have another shot at him if I was within three or four lengths coming into the last break because I knew I was going to go through him to try to win.           

When the caution came out, I actually was pretty happy about it, letting everything cool down and have another shot at him.           

On the restart I tried to actually blend in behind him because I knew I was never going to outbreak the 18, he was just kind of sidled off in there trying to win the race, and that's exactly what he did. But I couldn't find a hole, so I kind of got stuck in Turn 1 and just sidled off in there and tried to make a hole, which worked out for me. And with Brad, I just got through the bus stop really good and just forced the issue on him, and I never touched him I don't think, but I got him aero free and was able to slide past.           

It was only motor home I was talking to Brad about how hard the Cup Series is to win, and he said, yeah, when you get a fifth place car or a third place car, you've got to be able to win with those days, and there we were, the two of us duking it out for the victory. He's an upcoming superstar and great talent.           

All those guys at the front today just drove superbly and you've got to just take your chances, and today it worked out for us.            

Q. Now with the win, you've thrust yourself pretty much right into the middle of the wild card situation, particularly with the bad day that some of the other guys in the mix had today. Any second thoughts about doing the back and forth to Montreal next week, and how are you going to manage that?           

MARCOS AMBROSE: We're going to Montreal to win that one, too, and we'll go to Michigan on Sunday and try to win it. I've got -- I don't know about points, I really don't give a hoot about it, I've just got to win races. Today we won. It's a new day tomorrow. It's a new chapter for us as a team. We've got to victory lane. I think we're all going to get a bit of mojo, a bit of confidence about us and keep fighting, keep trying, and you never know. I mean, we're not out of the Chase, that's for certain, but looking at points ain't going to help you. You've just got to go out there and try to win races.            

Q. Can you talk about this weekend here and not being able to run the Nationwide race which you claimed as your own?           

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, definitely made for an anxious couple of days. I would have loved to have done the Nationwide race, but the first thing was that we really had to stay dedicated to our Cup program, and when we couldn't do it right over at Richard Motorsports with the Nationwide car, it was the right thing to do not to attempt the Nationwide win. It would be great to win four in a row, but it's even better to be in victory lane today, and we couldn't take away from what our ultimate objective is, and that's Sprint Cup Series, and it's worked out.           

Next year, though, I want to do the Nationwide race. Whoever is listening out there, I want to do it and win two on the weekend.            

Q. Was this a typical Watkins Glen race, or has the intensity level these last few races really risen with the wild card spots?           

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, there was some stuff going on today that created a lot of aggressive driving, and I drove pretty much 100 percent the whole day. It's not often you can say you need to do that around this place. It's normally the middle part of the event where you can just cool the brakes down, look after your stuff, the pace settles down. But with the rain imminent, the fog imminent, the strategy all messed up with fuel strategies, you never knew who was going to be in the lead. You had to go the whole time.           

About flat 45 I was struggling with brakes, and we had to come into the pits and pull some tape off and that helped us, and we had to drive hard all day. Yeah, it was frantic. It was tough all day. I seemed to be always looking in my mirror because this was someone there all day, and I think it's just the nature of this track and the weather conditions and also the Chase format. Everybody is just going at it with this new points system. You know the top 10s reward you well for points and top 20s don't get it done. I think it's a combination of all those things.            

Q. (No microphone.)           

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, it's going to get to a frenzy here before the end, I'm sure.            

Q. You kind of went out of your way to tell us not to ask you about the wild card on Friday and Saturday. Are you willing to talk about it a little bit now? You're kind of -- the win is what you needed.           

MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, the win is what we needed, no doubt. We've got to try and win two now. I don't even really know the points system that well to talk about the wild card. I just know that I have to go and win races and finish well in the top 10 from here to the end. That's what I'm going to try and do.            

Q. Todd, did you kind of have to -- when you got paired with Marcos kind of tell him everything was going to be all right because things were really in turmoil at that time, and also, did you toy with the idea of going back to Australia at all during that time because of your family?           

TODD PARROTT: Well, when they first started talking about it last year, when things were kind of going -- when Elliott, I think, made his decision that he was going to leave and where they were going to put me and what was going to happen and they had Marcos coming aboard, we started talking and developed a relationship toward the end of last year, and then over the winter, doing some road course testing and stuff. We got to spend a lot of time together. I kind of give him my background, where I came from, and I knew what his background was and I knew the talent that he was and just to be patient.           

That's the thing about this sport is just -- if you're patient and you keep working hard, sooner or later you'll be able to celebrate with all the fruits and the excitement and all the good things that happen in it.           

He's kept his head down, he's worked hard just like our whole team has, and it's just a pleasure to work with a guy like this. Like you said, we get along great, and I think each week the communication gets better, and I'm just really looking forward to the end of the season and hopefully we can go out and win a couple races. We've been good on the ovals. We've had some great runs this year, chances to win at a couple racetracks. I think, like you said, Marcos said, getting this win and getting the -- the load off his shoulders is going to help him, I think mentally, and it'll help us as a team knowing that we can win, that we can go out here with the Kyle Busches and the Juan Pablo Montoyas and the Jimmie Johnsons and all the great drivers that are out here in this sport and we can win.           

MARCOS AMBROSE: I needed a change. I mean, Tad Geshickter and the Gesheckter family, Jody, were great to me, a lot of security over there, good little program, but I felt stale. I had been with them since I'd come to NASCAR in 2006. I just felt I needed a change, and so I took my chances, left JTG a year early on the contract and tried to make something happen with Gillette and RPM at the time.           

I knew I was in for some troubles but I couldn't anticipate how much trouble it was going to go through. But at that point in time actually I was happy with any outcome. I had stuck my neck out, as you need to do sometimes to take a chance, and if it had have worked out that I was back in Australia, I was content that I had tried my best and I had made the best choices that I thought I could at the time, and it's all worked out.           

Here I am in the Cup Series driving for the King, got a fantastic sponsor in Stanley and DeWalt, got Ford on side, as well, and we're in victory lane, just a huge turnaround from 12 months ago, and very thankful.           

Eventually I'm going to get spat out of the sport, right? You can't drive forever unless you're Mark Martin (laughter), and I'm happy. I'm happy with what I've done. I've got to victory lane. I can go home knowing that I've won in the Sprint Cup Series, and it's a proud day for myself and my family.

We make sacrifices every day to do what we need to do. Today is my little girl's first day at school, and I wanted to take her to school, and here we are racing at Watkins Glen on a Monday and she's probably still cranky at me. But I think it's a good compromise to be here in victory lane.           

You know, families and Todd and his family and all the team, we all sacrificed to try to live the dream, and here we are. We're the best on the day and we're going to enjoy it.            

Q. Todd, can you talk about the evolutions of the organization you're with now because you were there when it was Yates, you were there when it was Gillette and now you're here for the second round of RPM. What has gotten you from starting point to here, and where have you seen the greatest improvements on Marcos over the course of the races that you've had to work with him?           

TODD PARROTT: I think the evolution has just been people sticking -- having faith in the company and the -- it's a strong team, and that's a tricky question, but being there at the start when I left Roberts and went there in 2008 and worked with Travis, and then last year -- that's the thing, working with Elliott. I was Kenseth's crew chief the first half of the season last year and then they moved me with Elliott, and I was really happy about that because I had worked with Elliott before, and I thought that we could win.           

But then as things went awry, I kind of wondered where am I going to fit in when all this shakes out, and they kind of told me that I had done a good job and were planning on putting me with Marcos. I knew what his history was and kind of followed up, did a little research on him, and I think he's a great talent.           

To me a guy that can run like he does on a road course with the finesse that it takes is the type of driver that it takes to run everywhere, short tracks, intermediate. He's got a feel for a race car like no other, and he can do this everywhere he goes. So I have total faith in him, and I hope he feels the same way about me. I just think the relationship and our cars and all that stuff is just going to get better as a team, Richard Petty Motorsports. I mean, A.J. had a great car today, leading the race and ran through the grass. I think had he not had his issues, I think you would have saw two of our cars up front today. It speaks leaps and bounds from where this company was a year ago.            

Q. There were a couple of real ugly wrecks today with Denny down in Turn 1 and then at the end of the race. Is there any concern for the guardrails and the safety equipment here and the track surface?           

MARCOS AMBROSE: I saw the 11, I saw a flash in the mirror. I thought, what's that, and then I look and the right-hand mirror coming off of Turn 1 and I saw him sidling towards the fence. That's a brake issue. We've got -- these cars are fast, big and heavy, and they're hard to stop. The tire, they were so good that they put extra stress on brake components. So I think part of it is maybe that. The track itself is a first-class facility. It's a great racetrack. I think they have done an awesome job in some of the safety features they've already implemented around this place. I don't drive around this place looking at any one spot saying, ooh, that looks nasty to me. I think they've done great with what they've got. If you don't have a guardrail off Turn 2, you end up going down a bank, so that's not good, either.           

So I think the track itself is fine. I think we just have to keep working on safety. All the drivers walked away. I've got no complaints about this place. I think it's a safe racetrack. We're just driving these cars flat-out, and it creates problems. So I think all the accidents today were mechanical issues mostly, apart from the last one. I didn't see any of them so I'll look at the TV when I go back, but cut tires and failing brakes, that's pretty much what started it.           

I think the track is a classic road racing circuit. You don't want to make it too sterile. You've got to have bumps and lumps and change of camber and roughness and all that kind of stuff that makes it what it is.            

Q. I'd like to ask you about Boris Said. You've raced against him. He's an aggressive driver like you're an aggressive driver. A lot of guys seem to have problems with him. What's it about Boris Said and the way he drives that seems to aggravate people?           

MARCOS AMBROSE: Well, this time when you're coming in -- Boris is a great driver, no doubt, and he is a great driver, but he's coming in once a year and we're running a season, and it's intense racing. We're all right on the edge and we're fine tuned, and you get another character in and you don't quite now how to predict what he's going to do or what moves he's going to make.         

I haven't seen anything wrong with his driver. It's just you're adding an extra element to the day. It's nothing against Boris; I think it's just the nature of this sport. We race every week against each other, the regulars, and when you get somebody that you throw in the middle of all that, it can cause friction. I wouldn't say that Boris is a nasty driver or a dirty driver at all. He's an aggressive driver and he's a talented driver, and he's running in the Cup Series with everybody that's doing it for a living. He should be commended for that. I don't think it's fair to pass judgment on him. I haven't had any problems with him.


 
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Posted on: August 15, 2011 2:46 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Speed Read: Watkins Glen

By Pete Pistone





COMPLETE RESULTS

Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen Recap 

I’d say that was definitely worth the wait. 

Nobody likes a rained out NASCAR race and waiting to run this year’s Sprint Cup Series visit to Watkins Glen until Monday due to Sunday’s wet weather surely disappointed thousands of fans. 

But once Mother Nature finally cooperated and the green flag flew it doesn’t get much better than the 90-laps run Monday around the historic road course. 

The race had everything any fan could want including yet another first-time winner in Marcos Ambrose, who finally was able to score his elusive trip to victory lane in NASCAR’s top division. 

“It’s a dream come true,” said the personable Australian, who brought Richard Petty another Cup win as a team owner. “Richard and everyone else who gave me a chance, thank you very much.” 

But Ambrose’s win was just the icing on a pretty delicious cake. 

The historic 2.45-mile road course added another chapter to the recent history of Sprint Cup road racing, which has blossomed into one of if not the most exciting forms of competition on the schedule. 

The advent of double file restarts two years ago definitely spiced up the proceedings at The Glen and its sister track in Sonoma. Gone are the single file conga lines that string out the field around the twisting circuits replaced with side-by-side restarts that aren’t for the faint of heart. 

Toss in the “Boys Have at It” mentality, point standings ramifications and just good old fashioned emotions and its easy to see why today’s road courses are in a lot of ways the new short tracks. 

But Monday’s race was different than June’s trip to Infineon Raceway, which turned into a high-speed demolition derby of drivers simply ramming into one another in a series of paybacks and revenge moves. 

Rather the race at Watkins Glen was simply hard and solid racing, which at times turned into emotional flare-ups but didn’t devolve into what Jeff Burton called earlier in the week “amateur driving.” 

Don’t put me down just yet as a stock car road racing convert but you can send me the application papers for review. 

Monday’s race was that good.

   

RISERS 

Brad Keselowski 

What could Keselowski do for an encore after his gutsy win last Sunday in Pocono? How about nearly go to victory lane for a second straight week a while nursing his broken ankle and injured foot around a road course. The Penske Racing driver turned in yet another incredible performance on Monday and remains in the driver’s seat for a potential berth in the Chase. 

Joey Logano 

Since the Carl Edwards rumored finally subsided Logano has no doubt slept better in recent days (except for those darn late night phone calls from Kyle Busch I guess). The results have been much better of late for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver who is starting to look a lot more like the guy who ended 2010 so well than how this season started. 

Jeff Burton 

Finally the veteran driver has a Top 10 finish to show for his effort. The agony of his frustrating season had to be alleviated at least a little bit after Burton took the green flag from the 40th starting position and ended up crossing the finish line ninth on Monday.

 

FALLERS   

Denny Hamlin  

His Chase chances took a big hit Monday as did his Joe Gibbs Racing FedEx Toyota when he crashed hard into the tire barrier and guardrail after something broke on the front end of his car. His last DNF was at Fontana back in march but his day at The Glen may be much more impactful as it may determine if Hamlin has another chance to run for the championship or miss the playoffs. 

Kurt Busch  

The weekend started on a positive note when he jumped into teammate Brad Keselowski’s Nationwide Series car and proceeded to score his first win in that division since 2006. But after a poor Sprint Cup qualifying effort, Busch’s day in the Watkins Glen headliner was rough from the start ending in a crash and a 38th place finish. 

Paul Menard 

The Richard Childress Racing driver’s Wild Card chances are a bit fizzy after his fiery exit from Sunday’s race. Menard crashed to bring out the day’s final caution and as he walked from his torn up race car he had to be wondering if the hopes for a spot in the Chase are going to be left in upstate New York.

 

RADIO WAVES  

(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)   

"We're going to get an yellow, I'm going to put the 22 so far up the S&^& wall." – A.J. Allmendinger after an early race altercation with Kurt Busch 

“I'm ok.. I don't know what broke but that was one of the hardest hits I've ever had.” – Denny Hamlin after his hard crash into the tire barrier and guardrail 

"Greg Biffle is the most unprofessional scaredy-cat ever. ... He's a chump." – Boris Said 

“I've been to some dirt tracks that have better walls than that." – David Ragan after his last lap crash

  

RACE RATING    

On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Monday’s rain-delayed Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen a five. That’s right, a Sprint Cup Series road course race gets the highest possible rating. I’m not sure what more you could have asked for on Monday in a race that pretty much had it all – hard racing, strategy, high emotions, a dramatic finish and yet another first time winner in Ambrose. I’m not ready to put a road course in the Chase or add a third to the Sprint Cup schedule but after Monday’s event at Watkins Glen I’m starting to come around to that way of thinking at least a little bit.

 

DOWN THE ROAD  

Well the good thing about a rain out and racing on a Monday is there’s a much shorter wait until the next event. It’s off to Michigan International Speedway for the second trip of the season and teams will have to scramble to get turned around after spending the extra day at Watkins Glen. Get your calculators ready because there’s another good chance we’ll have a fuel mileage race to sort through in the Irish Hills in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
 

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Watkins Glen Happy Hour to Marcos Ambrose

By Pete Pistone

Although he won't have chance for another Nationwide Series win on Saturday at Watklns Glen, Marcos Ambrose is a favorite for his first Sprint Cup victory on Sunday in the Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen.

Ambrose led Friday afternoon's final practice session, pacing the field in his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. Ambrose beat the old track qualifying record in the practice and will try for the pole in Saturday morning's qualifying.

Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the Top 5.

 
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Posted on: June 30, 2011 8:43 pm
 

Marcos Ambrose tops Daytona practice

By Pete Pistone

Marcos Ambrose led Thursday's only Sprint Cup Series practice session at Daytona International Speedway. Heavy rains washed out the day's first session and NASCAR officials were forced to cut the Happy Hour practice to 45 minutes as teams prepared for Sunday's Coke Zero 400. Ambrose led the way in his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. Qualifying to set the 43-car field is slated for Friday afternoon.

COKE ZERO 400 FINAL PRACTICE 



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