Marcos Ambrose needs a victory. There is no way around it. In order to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, he must get rid of the egg in the win column, or he will need to move up a few spots in the standings.
This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hits the road course in upstate New York. The only track where Ambrose has recorded victories in NASCAR’s top-tier division, Watkins Glen has by far been his top track. In six races at the Glen, Ambrose has five top-fives.
“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,” Ambrose said in a press conference on Friday morning. “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.”
Arguably, this is going to be the most important weekend of the 37-year-old’s NASCAR career. With rumors circling around Roger Penske and Dick Johnson teaming up to form a V8 Supercar team in Ambrose’s home country of Australia, he might just be on the move. Although he claims to have not made a decision on his future, it appears as if he is leaning away from leaving NASCAR competition on a full-time basis unless his Richard Petty Motorsports team can find some consistency before the season concludes.
“It’s going to be up to Marcos. I don’t know if he’s made a complete decision as far as where he is going to be. I know he wants to run some, but I don’t know if he wants to run all the time or not. We ain’t got a clue yet,” said team co-owner Richard Petty. “It (the season) is a little bit better than it was last year. We got a long way to go. We have one car in the Chase, but we still have to run well. Just because you are in the Chase doesn’t mean much.”
If he opts not to return to full-time competition in NASCAR, Petty said the team might run him on a part-time basis. The V8 Supercar season starts around the same time that the NASCAR season does, but the season continues on until early December – leaving very few options for Ambrose if he wants to do both.
“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,” Ambrose said. “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.”