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Aug 08, 2014 - 05:53 PM
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2014 Watkins Glen Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Marcos Ambrose
Posted by: ASkyler on Aug 08, 2014 - 05:51 PM
2014 Watkins Glen Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Marcos Ambrose

Marcos Ambrose comes back to Watkins Glen staring at a shot to make the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship directly in the face. With five of his six NASCAR wins (3 in Nationwide and 2 in Cup) coming at the track, Ambrose is the favorite to take home checkers this weekend. Ambrose discussed what lies ahead for him this weekend with media members at the track Friday morning.

MARCOS AMBROSE, No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion - TALK ABOUT YOUR FRAME OF MIND AND OUTLOOK THIS WEEKEND. "I am the same as AJ (Allmendinger). We both know we have a chance to win this race to lock into the Chase and that is a big thing for our team and would make our year. It is an important weekend no doubt. You have to try to downplay that as best as you can coming in. We are excited. We had a good test up here last week and felt like the car was a repeat of last year and we had a fast car last year too. We have our fingers crossed that it comes off the truck here pretty quick and we can get back down to business and work on starting in the front."

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT AS YOUR CHASE STRATEGY? WHAT DOES YOUR TESTING SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE? "I have not even thought about once you make the Chase because we are not in. I don’t mean to be rude but it is something I don’t even think about. I have to get in. That is my focus. This weekend has been a big push from RPM to get the 9 car a chance to make it in. If we do, then we will deal with those first three races as best we can. I know the 43 is already thinking about how they will go about it. They have a testing plan. We have one test day left as a company and other tracks we can go to that are similar to the tracks we have in the Chase to get them the best opportunity. If we can finish top-15 in the three races you should transfer through, those are the stats I have heard. If you are relying on a 15th place finish though, you won’t last too long. I think you have to go for wins and top-10’s straight away in the Chase. That is what I would do if I make it."


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HOW DO YOU DOWNPLAY THE IMPORTANCE OF ONE WEEKEND AND ONE RACE? "You just have to do the best you can. I can’t change anything but how I drive the race car. That is what I will focus on. We had a good practice in the Nationwide car this morning that was good to get the rust off. We will go here in a few minutes and check out the Cup car and see what it has. You know it won’t be easy. There are going to be 10-12 guys out there that have a shot to win the race. You just know going in that it won’t be a cake walk, it is going to have to be a big grind to get the victory. I have been here in victory lane lucky, been here deserving it and I have lost races here when I deserved to win as well. Like AJ said before me, you can only do what you can out there behind the wheel and let the racing god’s work out whether it is your day or not. There are factors here that come into play that our outside your control. Some days you are on, some days you are not."

MARCOS AMBROSE CONTINUED -- HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN THE RACE STRATEGY HERE AND HAVE YOU DECIDED WHAT YOU WILL BE DOING NEXT YEAR? "I absolutely haven’t even thought about that. We have a big week this week trying to make the Chase for the 9 team and that is all I am focused on. How do you keep your emotions in check and what do you do? You just, for me, I drive as fast as I can every single lap from the start of practice to the end of the race. I let it work out from there. You have to be smart. That is what AJ was kind of pointing toward. His race at Sonoma, he had a great car and was driving well but you have to play it smart. That is what you have to do here to be in position at the end of the race to take advantage of restarts and fuel mileage and all those other factors. We got caught out last year by staying out too long and the yellow came out and that hurt us. We have to work on that strategy for this year. I think we have made gains in our fuel mileage which will help that."

IF YOU DO MAKE THE CHASE, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR RPM TO HAVE BOTH CARS IN AND WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO HAVE A TEAMMATE IN THE CHASE WITH YOU? "I hate to be rude but I am not in the Chase yet. I just haven’t thought about it. It is fairly straightforward. RPM would love to have both cars in the Chase and that is what we will try to do this weekend."

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A ROAD RACE AS PART OF THE CHASE? "I get asked that every year and I think I would be happy if there were 36 races that were road races wouldn’t I? That is just the way it goes down. NASCAR has got a tradition in this series and I am not going to comment on what races should or shouldn’t be in the Chase."

HOW DO YOUR PAST WINS HERE FACTOR IN TO THE STRATEGY FOR THIS RACE? "You know what you need from the race car to get to victory lane and that inner confidence to do what you need to do. My past history is no guarantee at the future. That is the way I look at it. Each weekend is unique to itself and this weekend in particular, already there are some different angles that we haven’t had to deal with before like the new ride height and downforce rules as well as fuel mileage and how that comes into play which will be different compared to last year. There are a lot of subtle differences that we will have to factor in. I don’t take any past history as any guarantee of success that is for sure. You do know what it takes to win though and that does give you a bit of confidence."

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE RACE FOR SUNDAY? "It is nice to get the cobwebs out early and get on the track early and get after it. It is good for me to get a few more laps on the track. There isn’t much you can carry over though. It is a different set of rules. It is the same tire, so tire pressure maybe. Even the brakes are different because you aren’t going as fast to need to slow down as much. There is very little to cross over but it is fun to have a second race here. I have won three Nationwide races here in a row and I am going to try to make it four."

DO YOU FEEL A TARGET ON YOUR BACK WHEN YOU COME HERE? "Certainly I get talked about more and people want to know what I am doing. That is a good thing. I don’t have any problem with that."

MARCOS AMBROSE CONTINUED -- WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCES YOU’VE NOTICED ON THE TRACK WITH THE NATIONWIDE CAR SINCE YOU LAST RAN IT IN 2010? "The speed is lower in the Nationwide car which helps brakes and gives you more time to think about what you are doing. You can be a little more aggressive because you can set the car up stiffer because it doesn’t have to absorb that horsepower and brake pressure. It is fun. They are fun cars to drive."

WHAT IS SUCCESS FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND? IS ANYTHING BUT A WIN ACCEPTABLE FOR YOU? "We have to be careful because we are 17th in points. If we get away with a top-five and we get closer - I think you need to be about 13th in points to feel like you have a shot to make the Chase - then we could say it has been a solid day but really we have come here to try to win. At the same time, winning is very difficult in this series so you have to be proud of putting effort in. For me, if I have a good day and drive the very best I can and get out of here with a top-five I will take it as a decent day, but we have come here to win."

YOU’VE HAD SOME GOOD SUCCESS AT MICHIGAN LATELY AND SPEED THERE. CAN YOU LOOK AHEAD TO NEXT WEEKEND? "Our racing form on intermediate and downforce tracks hasn’t been that great. It is going to be a struggle at Michigan but Bristol certainly is on the radar. We have finished top-five there and Aric came very close to winning it. I think that is a good track for us."

CAN YOU COMPARE THE CHALLENGES OF THIS YEAR TO ANY OTHER YEAR IN YOUR CAREER? "It has been a struggle. The last couple of years have been like that. Our first two years before this new body we had really good speed every week and it was a lot of fun. The last couple years have been a challenge for us. It has been a grind, no doubt. We are looking for that next step in our team. It is a big step for us to make the Chase with Aric. That was a great day and a great opportunity but we need more than that. We need to fix our intermediate program and downforce program and find out where we are lacking. That will make it easier. That is the lions share of the tracks we go to. It is never easy, none of them are. Even when you are winning championships you think you are struggling, that is just how racing works. I am driving for the King and driving for Ford and it is great to be a part of the series. Just because it is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t great."

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