Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion, has a chance to qualify for next week’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup if he can win and have luck fall his way in terms of the point standings. Ambrose participated in a media session to discuss his chances Friday.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE IN THE MIX FOR THIS WILD CARD? “This is the second year my number has been on that wall. Last year, it didn’t work out too well, so I guess from history and looking at last year’s race, you’ve just got to be in contention up to the very end and see how the race goes. We can’t do anything different from what we’ve been doing the whole season. We’ve got a good team. We’ve got a lot of momentum coming into these late races, but we have to have the mindset of putting ourselves in position late in the race and not panicking early on. Last year, I panicked early on and was trying to get a lot of positions and paid the price, so now we really just have to think about being smart and let all of the others get crazy and hopefully we can pick up the pieces.”
ARE YOU HAPPY JUST TO HAVE THIS CHANCE? “I’m happy to be here, no doubt. I’ve got my number on the wall and we’ve got a chance to make the Chase. We had a really rough first half of the season and it’s just hard to make the Chase from that position, so we’ve won a race and got ourselves in position. We’re happy to be here, no doubt. We want to create some history and have some fun while we’re doing it.”
IF YOU WERE SECOND GOING INTO THE LAST LAP WOULD YOU HESITATE TO KNOCK SOMEBODY OUT OF THE WAY TO GET THAT WIN? “Not for a second. I just want to make sure I can get to second-place. The last bit is guaranteed from anyone who has a chance to make it. It’s just making sure that you’ve got a good enough car and you’ve driven well enough throughout the night to get yourself in that position to do that at the end. There’s no point in crashing people out if you’re running 15th all night. You’ve got to be up front.”
DO YOU LIKE THE FACT MOST PEOPLE ARE FOCUSING ON KYLE BUSCH AND JEFF GORDON? “Yeah, and quite rightly so. There are some heavy-hitters that are trying to make the Chase and I’m sure that Jeff and Kyle and Carl (Edwards), whoever misses out on making the Chase, is gonna feel like the season was a wipe because of it. They’re under a lot of pressure, a lot more than what I’m under. I’m here just to race and enjoy it and if it goes our way, it’s gonna be fantastic, but, if not, it’s not gonna change our outlook to the season. We’re not a superstar name and a superstar team. We’re a team that’s been getting better, so we’re just gonna enjoy the ride.”
DO YOU HAVE A DEAL IN PLACE FOR NEXT YEAR? “No, I do not.” DOES THAT WORRY YOU? “Yeah, it worries me a little bit. I’ve got unfinished business here in NASCAR. I want to be in NASCAR and I’m working with RPM. Hopefully, we can be with them for a long time to come, but there is no guarantee. Obviously, RPM has been through a lot this year as they have the last few seasons and I’m here to help them get to where they want to go and, hopefully, it works out for me.”
HAVE THEY TOLD YOU WHAT THEY WANT TO DO? RICHARD SEEMS TO THINK HE’S GOING TO BE ABLE TO CARRY TWO CARS NEXT YEAR. “Yeah, they’re telling me they’re good for two cars, so I believe them.”
DID THEY TELL YOU THEY WANT YOU TO BE IN ONE OF THEM? “Yeah, they’d love me to drive, but it’s just a matter of making it all work. We’re gonna get serious here, hopefully, and see how it all stacks up, but, right now, we’re just really focused on the Chase. We’ve all got good intentions to keep it all together, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work out.”
WHY HAVE YOU NOT HAD GREAT SUCCESS AT RICHMOND? “I think I’ve had a couple top 10s here with JTG, but I have not done well in the number 9 car here. I’ve just really struggled at this track and Loudon. Those are my two biggest challenges, but I’ve finished top 10 at both Loudon and Richmond several times with JTG before I came to RPM, so I feel like I can drive around the track, it’s just a matter of getting the car to feel like I need it. We’ve had a lot of trouble around this place to make it feel any good.”
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO CHANGE THAT? “We’ve come with a new package here this weekend. I feel like our team has come a long way since the first race here. We have a lot better understanding of what’s going on and I think we’ll be fine.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TRACK YOURSELF? “I love this place. It’s a great track. It’s a lot of fun to race on. It’s got the setups like a one-and-a-half mile oval. It feels like that with the banking and the smooth surface, yet it races like a short track. You can get two, three-wide and you can make things happen, and I like it. It’s a fun track. I enjoy running here. I just wish my results were a little better.”
HOW ARE YOU FEELING GOING INTO THE WEEKEND? “I’m really relaxed. The big names that have yet to make it in the Chase have more pressure than I have. I’m along for the ride. I’m enjoying it. We’ve got a chance to make some history and we’re gonna give it our best shot. I just go into this race happy to be a contender and we’ll see how it plays out.”
WHAT WOULD IT FEEL LIKE TO BE OUT IN FRONT HERE ON SATURDAY NIGHT? “It would probably feel better than any championship I’ve ever won anywhere in the world. This is the biggest stage in racing. It means a lot to both the team and myself to make the Chase and we’re gonna do everything we can to do it. I haven’t really thought about what it would feel like because I haven’t been in that position before here, I just know what I need to do, which is go out there and put myself in a position at the end of the race to be challenging for the lead, so we’ll try for that and see how it works.”
ON SITUATION FOR NEXT YEAR. “To be honest, I’ve thrown my foot way behind RPM. I think there’s a lot of willing parties there to put it together and I can’t see why if we can keep what we’ve got together, I can’t see why we wouldn’t be doing anything else.”
THEY STILL HAVE TO FIND A MANUFACTURER? “Yeah, RPM has to work out where they’re at before they can lock in their drivers, so I’m looking forward to having that discussion with them and, hopefully, we can all agree to move forward very quickly.”
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT IF YOU’RE STAYING OR GOING? “I’ve had such a great time driving for Richard Petty and Stanley and DeWalt and Ford that I don’t want it to stop. I’ve had a great couple of years. I’ve really enjoyed my time with my whole team and sponsors and there’s no reason why we wouldn’t want to keep that going.”
DO YOU GUYS HAVE A LOT OF MOMENTUM? “We really do. We’ve come so far as a team. I’ve come a long way as a driver. I feel much more complete as a driver sitting here tonight than what I did this time last year and I think the team feels that too. I want to be in NASCAR. I’ve got unfinished business here. I feel like I’m right on the edge of breaking through to being a consistent front-runner and I would love to give myself another shot.”
WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY THIS WEEKEND? “I don’t have one. I’m just gonna try to be smart and let the other guys get crazy and just put myself in position at the end to be close enough to the front to have a go. It’s been a tough track for me. It’s been a track that I’ve struggled at with the 9 team, so we have to fix ourselves before we can worry about winning a race. We’ve come with a new setup and we feel confident with what we’ve brought here and that we’re gonna be competition and that’s all that counts.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE TWO WILD CARD SPOTS AND ALL THE GUYS IN CONTENTION? “I was here last year, so I’ve kind of had some experience with it. I just want to plan a smart race and enjoy it. There aren’t many guys that have a chance to be in the Chase right now – less than half the field or even a third of the field are the only guys that really have a shot at it, so we’ve come down to the final stage and we’ve just got to get one more big day and big win for us to get ourselves in there.”
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