THE MODERATOR: We’ll get started with our winner’s press conference. We welcome Marcos Ambrose who won today’s race. Second victory here at Watkins Glen and second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. With this win today, Marcos is now eligible for his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race. This is his first victory of 2012.
Talk a little bit about that race out there today.
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, it was absolute chaos at the end. The three cars were very evenly matched. Kyle had a head start on us there. I was trying to chase him. I burnt my tires off, really burnt off the brakes. I thought, I’m going to be stuck here in second. All of a sudden I’m starting to slide out on oil. Couldn’t work out where it was coming from, if it was from my car or on the track. I saw Kyle backing up to us. It was absolutely crazy at the end.
A huge thank you to Richard Petty Motorsports, Stanley, Ford, everyone on our program. A real thrill to be back in Victory Lane. We earned it. We’re up there with the big boys, led a lot of laps today, had to pass a lot of cars to get the win, and we did it.
THE MODERATOR: Joining Marcos is owner Richard Petty. This is your fourth win. Talk about your pride of being part of this win with Marcos today.
RICHARD PETTY: You know, it was unexpected at the last of the race. We had a good car, ran good all day long. I think he was the excitement in the race. About the only one I seen pass anybody. Then right at last there, nobody knew what was going on. Marcos might have known a little bit about it, but the rest of us didn’t. They was slipping and sliding off the racetrack. We were thankful we got back.
Marcos stayed with it all day. We started out, we looked at the deal, we was going to have to make one extra pit stop because of fuel. Anyway, everything fell our way. The caution flag, the last one we didn’t need probably, but it made it a lot more exciting at the end of the race.
THE MODERATOR: We have crew chief Todd Parrott.
Talk about what it looked like from your perspective today.
TODD PARROTT: Like he said, it was pretty crazy. From sitting up on the pit box, we had a great car all day long. Just there at the end, looked like the 18 car, without that last caution, was going to get out on us. Just went off there down in turn one. Everybody, like he said, was slipping and sliding.
I was watching the television monitor. The 2 got into the back of 18. I knew this was the white flag. I knew there was oil all over the bus stop. Sammy is on the radio hollering, There’s oil up here. Looked like both cars went through the grass and stayed off the racetrack to be on what didn’t have oil.
He did a great job, him and Brad. I saw Brad as he got out of the car on pit road. He said, That’s what racing is supposed to be like.
It was exciting. Just proud of this guy, Richard and Sammy. Everybody at RPM dug deep, fought hard. We had great pit stops today. We worked really hard on that. Coming here last year our pit stops weren’t that good. We changed some things up for the pit stops today. We picked up about two and a half seconds on pit stops compared to what we had last year. I think that was a gain and a positive. Made good adjustments on the car, I feel like. Was a little happier with the way we went there.
We were in position. When you put yourself in position, you’re going to win races. That’s what we did today.
THE MODERATOR: Also joining us is Sammy Johns, director of competition. Talk about being part of this organization and this win here today.
SAMMY JOHNS: It’s a lot of fun. Todd and myself, everybody, talking about this race for a while. We knew we had to come here and not make mistakes. If we could put him in position, he would take care of the rest for us. Sure enough he did. I couldn’t be any prouder, like Todd said. He worked on pit stops with the guys, switched things around to benefit that. Just really proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports. A lot of fun to be part of it right now. A lot of guys pulling on the rope in the same direction, working hard. It’s a lot of fun to be part of it.
We’ve been in a position to have some more top fives, didn’t capitalize, but we did today. Hopefully this is a good look at the next half of the season.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions for the winning team.
Q. Marcos, could you go through what you recall from that final lap there after Brad hit Kyle and Kyle spun.
MARCOS AMBROSE: Well, I didn’t know Brad hit Kyle. I thought Kyle got loose first on some oil. Can’t blame Brad for hitting Kyle. The guy was sliding across the track. He was going to spin out. Brad finished him off. I thought, Man, there’s one, I got one more to go. Went up over the hill. Thought I was going to hit the fence.
Then we get down to the chicane, I’m going to follow Brad because he’ll see the oil before I do and I might be able to save myself. I went straight off the track with him. That wasn’t a good plan.
Then I dove to the inside thinking I was going to get off the oil that way. I slid through it through the carrousel. He slid through it afterwards. Got some momentum on it. Gave him a shot to try to clear him away. Sailed off into turn six. All I want to do is be offline. If I can be offline, there’s a fair chance, because up until that point it felt like it was on the racing groove. I felt if I could break off the racing groove, I’ve got a chance, then I’ll work it out from there. I turned in, slid, thought I had blown my chance in turn six.
I went over the curb, shot back the inside of Brad, put him in the oil, he slid on the oil, we snuck through for the win.
You couldn’t see where the oil was at. If it was a black streak, it would be okay. It was almost like a fine spray. I was the first one to start sliding on it. For whatever reason, my line, I slid into turn one, the hill, the bus stop. I thought I was blowing up. I thought it was my oil. Didn’t know what was really going on. Not until I saw Brad and Kyle sliding as well, I thought, Okay, there’s something on the track and we’re going to have to deal with it.
Big shout out to NASCAR, a lot of people saying, Should they have thrown a caution or not. No one wants to see these races finish under caution, bunched back up in these two-by-twos, make it a random finish. We had the three fastest cars duking it out for the win. That’s the way it should be and I think they made the right call.
Q. Marcos, can you believe the way fate has smiled on you at this place?
MARCOS AMBROSE: She’s been frowning on me all year, so it’s nice to get a change (laughter).
Like Todd said, you just got to put yourself in good positions and wins will come. That’s what we did today. We had a fast car. We were in position to take advantage when it went crazy. We got the win.
We didn’t luck into it. We deserved to get this win. We’ll take it.
Q. Richard, watching it develop, did that bring back any are memories of you and David Pearson doing grass racing in Daytona?
RICHARD PETTY: Yeah, but not on a road course. You get down to the last of the race, some of you old guys will remember me and Allison did a lot of beating and bashing in the last few laps. I’ve been in a lot of them, put it that way.
You go, you run, you do the best you can, then you try to take advantage of the circumstances. That’s what Marcos did today.
He didn’t create none of those circumstances; he took advantage of those circumstances. So we’ve been in some of them before like that.
Q. Marcos, before the whole oil mess, how was your car performing in comparison to Kyle’s? If that doesn’t happen, do you think you have a shot to win?
MARCOS AMBROSE: If we had had track position at the end, we would have pulled away from Kyle. Even around these places, aero is a big thing because you can’t get air on the brakes, can’t get the nose down. We could chip away at him, but I was just burning my stuff up to catch him at the end.
So we led a lot of the race in the middle part. If the caution hadn’t come out when we were in our window to pit for the last time, we would have been fine. But we had to pit because we were in our window when the caution was out. We came out 9th or 10th. I knew I had a lot of work to do. It wasn’t going to come easy. I had to get myself back up there.
We actually got back up to 2nd when Smoke spun out. I thought, right, I got a chance to win this. Then Kyle did an awesome move on the inside. Give the guy props, he did exactly what he needed to do, took us three-wide into one. I knew I was toast, I was in trouble. I managed to fight my way past Brad. I tried to chase Kyle down, but he wasn’t making any mistakes, he had a fast car. I just burnt my stuff up trying to get to him. I was really thinking, Okay, it may be second place here.
Then the oil came down. I slipped to third. I thought, That’s not the plan. So I just put my head down, kept trying. Made less mistakes than the other two, I guess.
Q. You fought hard today to get you where you’re at. Looking at the races ahead, you’re more than likely going to need one more win before you get into the Chase. Where is that win coming?
MARCOS AMBROSE: We’re looking next week. We got the pole at Michigan. We were running top five all day there. No reason we can’t go there and surprise them again.
Q. Marcos, have you ever raced that type of condition before? Is there anything you do beyond hoping you don’t hit the oil?
MARCOS AMBROSE: Well, I have raced in those conditions before, but not when there’s so much at stake. We’re racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series here. Wins are hard to come by.
Just a lot of pressure and you’re up against the best drivers in the world. I got to take a second here to say Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch are two of the best road racers I’ve been around. They’re amazing drivers. Just a lot of fun to be driving against ‘em, around ‘em, putting ourselves in contention for the win.
When it comes to situations like that, it’s similar to rain or drizzle on the track. You never quite know what you’re going to get when you get to the corners. There was a lot of grip or there was none. Unusual. Two or three times I thought, I’m good here. I hit the gas pedal, spun out. Man, I don’t know what’s happening. You couldn’t see the oil. Normally you could see it on the racetrack, but I couldn’t see it. It was wait till the car slides and try and save it.
Q. Todd, Rodney Feathers is on your pit crew. Talk a little bit about the contribution of Rodney, what he’s meant to you.
TODD PARROTT: Rodney does a good job. He’s a good jackman. Like I said, I had to rally the troops a little bit this week. Coming into this race, looking at things that we did here last year to try to get better, we had to be better in the pits. If it came down to one of the two cars making green flag pit stops, like he said, track position is so important, we went to work this week. We switched up some tire changers. We really worked hard on their steps, the movements they made around the car, tried to clean that up a lot.
The whole pit crew did a great job. Rodney is a heck of a jackman. Been around for a long time. He’s worked for me a couple times now. Like I say, he does a great job. But the whole pit crew rallied together today. Every guy that went over the wall did their job and did the very best at it they’ve done in a long time.
Q. After last year, there were some changes made to the course. Did it feel safer out there? What did you think?
MARCOS AMBROSE: Watkins Glen have done a great job at this facility. It still races the same, yet safety is improving every year we come up here. Clearly last year’s accidents put alarms out for a lot of folks. They did a great job correcting the issues they found. They actually made the track faster. A lot of the curbs on the inside, they’ve added some concrete in there, so it allows us to run through the inner loop a lot faster. Turn one is safer and faster.
All around a huge thumbs up. I think the three races here this weekend have been the best three races Watkins Glen has seen for a long time.
Q. Marcos, most people are talking about the racing on the last lap. There were several big moves made throughout the course of the race. Could you give an assessment on the racing you had with Kyle before the last lap, including his move where he passed the two of you.
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, you’re around pro racers. They’re taking every advantage they can when they get them. It was a tough race. It was a fast race. I felt like I was pushing my car hard all day. I was worried that I was actually driving the car too aggressively to stay in front. Then when I was chasing Kyle down there, I really was pushing as hard as I could.
He was driving a great race. He always races well here. Every year I come here, I look at his car, it looks the same, and it’s as fast as it always is.
Brad Keselowski, the 2 car, they’ve been really great here the last couple years. They’re a force to be reckoned with, no doubt.
I thought the race was clean, fast-paced, a good day. A good show from NASCAR.
Q. Todd, you’ve been around a long time. How would you rate that finish? What were your emotions like?
TODD PARROTT: I was pretty emotional again there at the end. I’ve been around a lot of great races. I’ve been associated with a lot of great wins. But that one right there probably ranks up there in the top two or three as far as the excitement level on the last lap.
You go to take the white flag, you’re not sure if you’re going to finish second or third. Then half a lap later you’re saying you’re going to win the race.
Just a lot of emotion. Like I said, that was a heck of a race. The fans got their money’s worth on that one. I know from my seat, Richard was sitting behind me, that ****, it was crazy.
Q. Richard, this week you were involved in donation to the food pantry. Can you tell us a little bit about that.
RICHARD PETTY: We did a deal with Smithfield. They give away maybe 30 or 60 thousand pounds of food to the food bank when we was in Daytona. When we was at the Charlotte race, they did a food bank for Greensboro, North Carolina. Friday we went over to Watkins Glen, downtown, they give away 30 thousand pounds of ham down there.
Just makes you feel good, from my standpoint, working with people like Smithfield that gives back to the community. We try to do it as the Petty family, Petty crowd anyway. But when you’re working with people that think the same way you do, it just makes it that much better.
Q. Marcos, I think last year your family wasn’t able to be here because of school and the rain-out. Looks like they’re here today. Talk about what it’s like having them here.
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, look, it’s just great. That’s why I got ‘em up here. They haven’t ever shared this. My kids haven’t shared this in America. It’s a special thing to win a NASCAR race, especially a Sprint Cup race. It’s fantastic.
I got my in-laws sitting in the back here, too. They’re here on vacation. Big shout out to them. My dad is in hospital right now. Hope this makes him feel better, gets him going.
It’s a tough life when you’re racing. I’m from Australia. My immediate family is down home. I feel a long way away a lot of days. You feel like, Okay, I’m chasing the dream here. Made a lot of sacrifices, and so too have my family.
It’s great to have them here, let them celebrate with me. These days don’t come around every day, you know.
Q. Richard, can you talk about your manufacturer plans for next year? Marcos said earlier in the weekend you were looking at what your choices might be.
MARCOS AMBROSE: Don’t blame me, man.
RICHARD PETTY: We got to finish up this year with Ford, okay? We have a contract with them. When the Penske deal came about, then we were kind of shuffled around a little bit with Ford. I don’t think we’re shuffled out, but kind of shuffled around. We’re just going to have to, you know, renegotiate our contract with Ford is I guess the way it’s going to be.
I seen some of the Ford people there today. I told them, Me and Marcos won the race. I had the contract in my pocket, I was going to let them sign it right there. I don’t think it went over too good (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations on your win today. Good luck the rest of the season.