Nascar punt pays off
The switch to Nascar suits Marcos Ambrose, writes PAUL GOVER
MARCOS Ambrose has plenty to celebrate this week. He has just bounced off the most successful weekend since he rolled the dice with his Nascar gamble, taking a win and a second place in the toughest tin-top series in the world.
The transplanted V8 Supercar champion was always expected to go well at the Watkins Glen circuit in New York State because it’s the closest thing in Nascar to the tracks where he cut his racing teeth.
Ambrose returned to Watkins Glen as the defending champion in the second-tier Nationwide series after winning in 2008.
But he still had to get the job done, and he did it in style— winning in the Nationwide car and taking second against the Nascar aces in the Sprint Cup feature race on Monday.
‘‘I can’t wait to have a shower and lie down. I’m pretty whipped,’’ Ambrose confesses after his second place to Tony Stewart, a former series champion who also has Watkins Glen wired after four previous wins.
Ambrose had plenty of challenges during the weekend, not least the need to switch between two very different cars. And his Nationwide drive was a late one-off deal, with a racer well down on power, even though he dominated the race after starting second.
‘‘We’re not here to come second, we’re here to win, and I had that mindset all weekend,’’ Ambrose says.
He pulled a brilliant pass on Kyle Busch, one of the hard men of Nascar, to claim his victory and clearly enjoyed the battle.
‘‘Well, I never touched him. I’ve seen Kyle knock guys out for the win,’’ he says.
‘‘You’re racing against one of the best in the business and the element of surprise was my tack. I don’t know what he has to complain about. I passed him without touching him and we won the race. It doesn’t matter if he was mad at me anyway.’’
Ambrose had a much tougher time in the Sprint Cup stoush. He was hurt by running a strategy that was out of phase with the leaders and which ultimately forced him to run too many laps on worn tyres.
‘‘It was at the first stop. We were third, we stayed out and everybody pitted except for three cars, then our destiny was set. We couldn’t then pit with everybody else because we were off sequence so we just had to try and run our own race and have the shortest pit stop we could as soon as we could make it home.’’
Even so, he had the pace to lead and moved up from 19th to second at the flag.
The Sprint Cup result boosts Ambrose to 17th in the series after 22 starts.
High octane win: Marcos Ambrose celebrates his weekend triumph at Watkins Glen.