By admin | August 4, 2010
By Richard Allen
It is often said coming into a racing weekend that this guy or that guy needs to win. But how often has someone really NEEDED to win?
This week, there is a driver who needs to win and that driver is Marcos Ambrose.
As has been well documented, Ambrose seemingly had the Sprint Cup race in Sonoma earlier this year in hand. With just a handful of laps remaining in that race, Ambrose employed the often used strategy of shutting the engine off to save fuel while riding under caution. However, there were two problems with doing what he did. First, his car likely had enough fuel to make it to the end of the race so it was something that was hardly necessary. Second, sometimes hot race cars do not start back up very easily when shut off, and that was the case for Ambrose.
Because Ambrose allowed the car to drift into un uphill part of the track before attempting to re-fire the engine he was unable to use gravity as a ‘pusher’. So when the car would not roar back to life with the starter, it came to a stop. NASCAR rules say a car must continue to move if it is to keep its place in the lineup.
The end result of Ambrose’s gaff was that Jimmie Johnson moved to the lead and went on to win. The affable Australian went on to finish 6th.
When Ambrose first started to work his way up through the NASCAR ranks in the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series he was known as a road course driver who was trying to find his way around the oval tracks. While he has made noteworthy progress on the ovals, he is still primarily regarded as a road racer first and foremost. He is sometimes considered a contender for top-10s on oval tracks but he is considered a true threat to win on road circuits.
With that said, it is important to note that this weekend in Watkins Glen will mark the final time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will visit a road course in 2010. It will also be the last time Ambrose ever goes to a road course race driving for JTG-Daugherty Racing as he has announced he will leave that team at the end of the year.
No doubt, Ambrose would like to give his current team a win before he moves on to his next ride.
But more than winning for his team, Ambrose needs to win this race for himself. Until he finally wins, he will always be known as the guy who had a race won and inexplicably shut his car off and gave away a win as a result.
So yes, Marcos Ambrose NEEDS to win this week in Watkins Glen.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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