Marcos Ambrose laments the one that got away


The road course at Watkins Glen is known for its changes in elevation.

In figurative terms, Marcos Ambrose is all too familiar with the highs and lows the 2.45-mile track can deliver.

The high points of Ambrose’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career came at the Glen, with consecutive victories in 2011 and 2012. In Sunday’s Cheez-It 355, Ambrose started from the pole and appeared head for a third straight win but the final 30 laps were all downhill for the talented Australian driver.

Through no fault of his own, Ambrose was caught out when NASCAR called a caution on Lap 60. Those who had pitted a lap or two earlier–among them race winner Kyle Busch and runner-up Brad Keselowski–benefited from the same yellow that mired Ambrose in 12th place for a restart on lap 64.

From that point, the race went from bad to worse for the driver of the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports driver. An engine issue prevented Ambrose from getting up to speed on subsequent restarts. Ultimately, it put him in harm’s way, leading to a wreck on Lap 85 of 90 that relegated him to 31st place at the finish.

In five previous Cup starts at the Glen, Ambrose had finished no worse than third.

Ambrose also was party to an earlier accident that damaged the cars of Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth. Because Ambrose’s car wouldn’t launch, Kenseth ran into him coming up through the esses on Lap 81.

The contact sent Kenseth’s Toyota into Kahne’s Chevy and knocked Kahne into the path of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Earnhardt.

“Something was wrong with the car, and I just couldn’t get going,” Ambrose said ruefully after the race. “I could feel on the roll-around lap that something had broken, but I just feel bad for the guys who got caught up in all that mess. That’s not the way we wanted our day to finish.”

Ambrose led 51 of the first 61 laps before the inopportune caution started his downward slide.

“Yeah, that’s just the way it goes,” Ambrose said. “It wasn’t our day, but we’ve had plenty of good days here. We just need to reflect on this, and we’ll wake up tomorrow and just press on and go to the next one.”