NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Marcos Ambrose Driver Diary: The 1 That Got Away

We’ve been to quite a few races since the last diary. As for Michigan, considering that we’ve struggled on that style of speedway, we’re proud of our finish (15th) there. We were running top 15 all day so that was good. At Sonoma, we had a chance to win and let it slip there at the end. It was just an error. It’s unfortunate the way it went down, but we were still very fast. There’s a lot of pressure to win our first race. We’ve had a difficult year and that was our first real chance to win a race this year. It’s a shame it turned out like that, but it is what it is. We’re disappointed about it, but we’re not going to lose faith and we’re moving forward so that’s that.

At Daytona we were running great. We were running inside the top 10 there with seven laps to go and got caught up in a crash. And then the last race at Chicago was just a trying day. We never really got our stuff right and had a below average finish.

Sonoma was our best finish of the year (sixth) but it’s kind of bittersweet. We went there to win and we had a chance to win we let it slip away. No matter what the circumstances were to get ourselves in that position, I made a mistake there in the car. I feel bad for the team and it’s a shame to lose like that, but mistakes happen. It’s a tough business. We had a chance to win, and while we didn’t win the race, the top-10 finish is some consolation.

Watkins Glen is coming up in a few weeks and it’s a chance to make amends. There’s going to be amazing competition there, no doubt about it, so there’s no guarantee, but it’s a chance for us to get up in the front and show everyone what we’ve got.

We’ve got Indianapolis this week and that’s really my focus right now, to get through Indy. It’s a famous racetrack and it’s a great place to go. You don’t get many chances in your life to race at a place like Indy and I want to make the most of that chance.

We just had an off-weekend this past week and I went to Nova Scotia in Canada and did a short-track race up there at Riverside International Speedway. We had a great time. I originally planned to go up with my family, but that didn’t work out for us, so I just went up there on my own and ran a big Chevrolet model race up there. It was a sellout crowd and there was over $100,000 in the prize pool. Competition was fierce and it was a great night.

I haven’t done a lot of things off the track this year because it’s just been a very trying season so far and it’s not easy to throw out negatives or doubts so we’re just looking forward to finishing off the second half of the year a lot better than what we started out in the first half.

For us it’s been a combination both of just missing the setups because our old notes don’t really apply and bad luck with accidents, and other things like issues with tires or trouble with the motor. When we do finish the races, we have an average finish of 13.5, which is good, but it’s not quite where we want to be. Whenever we’ve been caught in a crash where there’s trouble, we’re in that 12th to 20th range on the track. That’s where all the trouble is. The green/white/checkered finishes trigger the crashes in that area of the pack now.

We’ve just had too many accidents. 90% of them have not been our doing, we’re just at the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s a consequence of running in the mid-pack. We’re not in the back, we’re not in the front, we’re in the middle and normally that’s where all the drama is. We need to get ourselves out of that trouble zone and up to the front. We’ve just been caught out in bad position at the end of a lot of the races.

Natural speed takes care of a lot. We’ve struggled some to have that raw speed that we seemed to have last year, which is partly to do with the setup. So that’s notes and and there were the changes with rear blade and what not. In general, there are no excuses. We’re not looking for excuses. We’ve just got to get to work and try to get better, and I just think part of our problem has been that we’re in the middle of the pack.

It’s maybe not as bad as it looks on paper. We’ve had way too many non-finishes and we had a points penalty for an indiscretion on a component on the car and motors blowing up and just all sorts of things going on. It’s been a struggle, no doubt, and it’s been a rockier road than what we wanted, but we’re trying to move forward with optimism and finish up the year a lot better than we started.

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