Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Stanley/DeWalt Ford Fusion, is the defending winner of the Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen.  He spoke to reporters earlier this afternoon.

MARCOS AMBROSE ON WATKINS GLEN: “I remember the rain from last year and we had to wait until Monday to get it in, but it is good to come back.  It’s been a good track for me and I’m ready to get started.  I think the weather is blowing through, which is good for Sunday, but what do we want more – start 18th or 19th in the lineup and get no practice, which is probably good for us to stop people from catching us because we know we’ve got a good setup here, or do we want to practice and go for the pole.  We’ll see how this afternoon goes and what NASCAR does with the scheduling.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT THE WIN WAS FOR YOU AND RPM?  “RPM has been doing fantastic.  We’re not a super-team, but we’re a really strong two-car team, probably one of the strongest out there right now.  We’re proud of winning the race here last year and we’re pleased with how we’ve gone this year.  As a company we had the front row at Charlotte and three pole positions in the company and we’re looking for more wins and top fives and all that good stuff.  It feels good to be part of this team, but we keep looking towards the future and the future is more performance like we’ve got going and more results.  We feel like we’ve had a good year, but not a great year and we need to finish off really strong in 2012.”

HOW MUCH MORE ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SUNDAY GIVEN THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF SONOMA?  “Well, it wasn’t disappointment, we just missed it for the race.  We got the pole out there, it was my first pole position so we had a lot of car speed, but we couldn’t find a happy medium for tire life.  We could run really fast for three or four laps, but we weren’t very good for 30 or 40 laps and we paid a price.  We learned our lesson there.  This track is completely different and I think the package we had last year worked well.  We refined it and thought a lot about it and hopefully we’ll be even faster this year.”

DOES DODGE PULLING OUT IMPACT YOUR ORGANIZATION AT ALL?  “RPM is still looking at all their options as far as manufacturers go.  I think for the sport, Dodge pulling out was not a great thing.  It’s been really healthy to have four manufacturers in the sport, so as a fan of NASCAR I’m disappointed that Dodge made that choice, but I understand it.  For us, we’re building to the future at RPM and I look forward to playing my part and helping them make good choices here.  I think it’s exciting times for RPM.  They’ve got a lot of options.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN A FORD GUY?  WOULD YOU HAVE GONE TO DODGE?  “As we sit here absolutely nothing has changed, so until something is presented to me you have to look at it under its merits.  The whole Dodge thing, it didn’t come through so there was nothing to look at.”

HOW COULD YOU DEFINE TO ATHLETES IN OTHER SPORTS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO RACE AT WATKINS GLEN?  “There’s a lot more going on as far as what you need to do behind the wheel.  You’ve got a lot more braking and technique on the brakes as well trying to keep the car from locking the tires up and downshifting, looking after the gear box, looking after the car.  You try to ride a bull and keep it somewhat under control.  The car is really powerful and it wants to buck and kick and throw you off every corner and you’ve just got to manage that. You have to really control the brutality of a Sprint Cup car.  I don’t think anyone who has raced a car or has watched car racing can fully appreciate how difficult these Sprint Cup cars are to get around a road course.  They’re just really heavy, really powerful with not enough brakes and not enough downforce.  There’s just a lot of stuff going on with a really small tire.  The tire that we have on the car is very small compared to the weight we carry and that’s what makes our sport so great.  Whether it’s road racing or Bristol or Michigan it’s man versus machine and it’s a tough battle out there.  It’s really satisfying when it goes well and not so satisfying when it goes wrong and it could go wrong in a hurry.”

DO YOU THINK OTHER ATHLETES WOULD BE SURPRISED AT WHAT GOES ON INSIDE THE CAR?  “I’m sure they would be and like any sport at the top level there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.  As far as race car drivers go, we don’t complain much outside of our own team because we constantly complain about the car handling to our team.  The balance for us is we know what we’re in for.  We know it’s gonna be really hot, really loud and brutal out there and we’re racing against drivers that want to take your paycheck away from you.  That’s just the way it is and we just get on with our business.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO RACE ONE OF THESE CARS IN THE RAIN?  “That particular battle there with Carl (in Montreal) was fantastic and I actually remember we could pull a gap when it was raining, it was when it was dry when we were out there with wet-weather tires that I had a tough time.  When the track is wet or dry you can manage that pretty easily as far as you know how much grip you’ve got, you know how deep to brake and you know how hard to hit the accelerator pedal and all those things because you can learn it.  But when the track is drying or going from dry to wet, it’s that in-between that’s really difficult to get the job done because every corner, every lap it’s different.  As the track is drying you’re taking more chances and saying, ‘OK, last time I could brake at the 400-yard marker.  This time I know the track is dryer so I need to brake at 350,’ but until you get there you don’t really know what condition that track is in.  Someone could have slid across and brought some fresh water across the apex, so for me it’s the drying or wetting of the track that is the most challenging part when you have to race through it.  But I grew up in the rain.  I’m from Tasmania and we pretty much have water all around us, so it was always wet and I’m used to that.  I grew up racing in the rain, whether it’s on a go-kart or heavy stock car I can adapt and that’s really one of the best aspects of wet-weather driving is you have to adapt.  You can’t do the same thing every lap.”

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