With no ride to defend his three Nationwide Series victories at Watkins Glen, Australia’s Marcos Ambrose will do something better known as a pastime in his home state of Tasmania.
Ambrose’s Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) team was unable to raise the sponsorship backing for his entry in the Zippo 200 At The Glen, CLICK HERE for that story, so he will take to the nearby finger lakes of New York State for some angling from after lunch on Saturday.
Ambrose will be busy earlier in the day as he aims to put his #9 Ford on pole position for the first time in the Sprint Cup.
“I’m going to go fishing,” Ambrose told NASCAR.com’s Joe Menzer.
“I don’t really want to be here Saturday afternoon to watch someone else win my race.
“I’ve won it three years in a row. I’m very disappointed I didn’t get a chance to do it. I think it’s just a combination of the bad economy and just bad timing.
“We worked hard with RPM to put a team together, to put a sponsorship package together, and it just didn’t work out. We were pretty close, but it didn’t play out. We’ll just try to forget about watching the Nationwide race. Whoever wins, I’ll congratulate ’em — but I want to be a long way away from the track. I feel like it’s a race I wanted to do, and that I would have had a good chance for another win.”
Although he won’t race the Nationwide event, it does mean the Aussie can fully concentrate on trying to break through for his first win in the premier Sprint Cup.
Watkins Glen is one of only two road course events on the Sprint Cup and after topping the time sheets for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen by nearly half-a-second in final practice ahead of qualifying he has every reason to feel confident.
“I like the format of the weekend, practicing [Friday] without worrying about qualifying,” said Ambrose.
“I think that will keep me a little calmer. When you qualify on Friday, sometimes it’s quite a challenge to feel like you can actually use practice for getting ready for the race. You tend to use it to get ready for qualifying.
“I think we’ve just got to be smart here, tune the car as we go — and I think it’s going to be a fun weekend.
“You’re up against the best drivers, and they know what to do — and they know how to get you out of the way if you give them the chance.
“So it’s aggressive; it’s dangerous as far as getting in accidents and incidents and spinning off and losing track position.
Ambrose is highly regarded on the road courses by everyone on the Sprint Cup, including Series leader Carl Edwards who took some driving tips from the Tasmanian.
“He’s screaming fast, but he was nice enough to talk to me a little bit in practice and give me some pointers,” said Edwards.
“He’s phenomenal. He’s an unbelievable road course racer. I would say that if he were to go run Formula One, in the right equipment, he could be a threat for the world championship.
“He is the fastest guy here this weekend and he just told me his braking points. How he was shifting. The corners that he gave priority to and I hope he’s telling me the truth because I’m relying on that information out there.”
Here Paul Menard and Marcos Ambrose talk ahead of practice