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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Marcos Ambrose Driver Diary: So Close & Yet So Far

We’ve had an off start to our season. We’ve had wonderful speed but we’re not converting it into the runs we want at the finish. At Bristol we were just brilliant, running right inside the top 10, a real contender for the win and then I got caught up in a mess and got damage to our car. We had two 11th-place finishes and then we had a tough weekend at Texas, so we’re running well, but it’s getting very frustrating to be honest with the lack of results. We’re running fast, which is a good confidence booster for us all, but we’ve got to get our team to a point where we actually convert that from showing it to actual good results. We’re eight races in and haven’t had a top 10, haven’t had a top five and it’s definitely weighing on my mind that we’ve got to start really striking.

I’ve noticed we’ve had an unusually high number of 11th-place finishes and it’s frustrating because this sport is all about performance, and one of the key criteria of determining success is top-10 finishes. We keep running 11th every week it seems like and so we don’t get the stat. It’s frustrating but at the same time 11th is a lot better than 12th. Right now we’re getting a little frustrated as a team. We want to convert top-10s and actually deliver on the racetrack for our sponsors and it’s a challenge. This is where racing becomes a mental game rather than a physical game because you’ve got to withstand your own pressures and stay realistic.

We’ve changed from the wing on the car to the spoiler beginning with Martinsville. At some points it’s very different when you’re trying to pass on the bottom of another car. It really allows you to feel the drag in the car. There are some changes. I think the racing has improved slightly because of it all which is good news. The setup of the cars is a lot better. But in general, for the actual overall balance of the racecar, it’s like a 1% balance shift which is not a lot.

We’ve had a lot of issues with wet weather and rain delays lately. I’ve got to get a new DVD collection because I’ve run out. We’ve been sitting around way too long at the racetrack looking for things to do. It’s frustrating as a driver. You’re there to race and when you have to stay the extra day it messes up the following week. It also messes things up because we didn’t get a chance to practice at Texas and that really hurt our team. We didn’t get a chance to run through our setup changes that we wanted to and when the race did come, we weren’t ready for it. It’s a challenge for all the teams.

It can be a little frustrating and confusing to the fans too. The rains drizzling and there’s no drivers around and no cars on the track. There’s a lot at stack. Promoters are desperate to get the race in. The rain hurts everybody, drivers, fans, promoters, NASCAR, TV ratings and all that good stuff. We don’t like rain delays. We desperately try to get the race in if we can, but the last few weeks here it’s just been impossible to get the races in on Sunday.

As far as off the track, I’ve gotten into mini bike racing. Little mini motocross I call them. They’re little 125cc motor bikes so that’s been a lot of fun with my friends, having a blast on those. I’m getting in to building a boat, a gold boat dredge. I’m making it from scratch, so that’s been a lot of fun putting that together too. On the off days I’ve got myself pretty busy.

The boat I’m building has a set purpose. It’s not designed to water ski behind and it’s not designed to catch fish on. This boat is designed to go up very shallow rivers. We’ve got a very thick bottom on it so it can bounce off the rocks. It’s got a special motor with a jet impeller on the back of it so it can bounce it off rocks too. The idea is to get up these really shallow rivers with this boat so we can go gold prospecting. It all ties in together with one of my other hobbies – it’s all one thing!

This week we go to Talladega. It’s one of the races that I don’t necessarily look forward to getting in that racecar. You never know what you’re going to get. The chances of getting crashed out are high, so that’s a bit of a worry. Every race I finish of those, it’s very rewarding to get to the end, because it’s such a challenge to get through the event and withstand all the pressure. It’s a weekend that you love to hate. When you get to the back side of it you say “Man, that was awesome!” but during the weekend it’s always quite nerve-wracking.

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