By admin | August 10, 2013
By Richard Allen
Marcos Ambrose has won two consecutive Sprint Cup races on the road course at Watkins Glen International. But more than simply adding a third victory on a particular track, the Australian driver has the chance to give his Richard Petty Motorsports team and Ford Racing something they have not experienced nearly as often as they would like this season… a win.
Ambrose set fast time with his #9 Ford during qualifying for the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. Now, the focus for this driver and team is to take advantage of their speed and score a win in one of the few races they’ve had a realistic chance of winning. He currently sits 22nd in the Sprint Cup standings with no wins and three top-10 finishes.
“It’s never as easy as it looks,” Ambrose said in a post-qualifying interview. “I got very loose through the esses and got very close to the outside wall coming off turn four. I lost my cool yesterday in practice and felt like I was behind but the guys made some great changes. We’ve got a lot of laps to do tomorrow and there is no guarantee of success so we’re just going to try to do our best out there and hopefully it goes our way.
“We’ve had a pretty rough year and it’d be nice to get a win and get back in the points and be a wildcard,” Ambrose added. ”The year’s not over and we’ve got a chance to do something really special.”
The former Australian V-8 Super Cars star has the best chance among the Fords to win but Carl Edwards was fast in practice before slipping to 16th in qualifying. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano posted top-10 qualifying runs on Saturday as well.
This race provides a great opportunity for Ambrose and his team, but it also provides a tremendous amount of pressure. Realistically, this RPM team has only a few chances to win races each season. The road courses along with restrictor plate tracks and a limited number of other races provide those chances.
And the pressure is on for Ford also. So far the manufacturer runs well behind its two biggest competitors in NASCAR with only three wins, the last of which came on June 16th when Greg Biffle won at the Michigan International Speedway. Chevrolet will enter Sunday’s race with ten victories to this point in 2013 while Toyota has already achieved eight first place results this season.
The trouble for Richard Petty Motorsports is that they are simply out gunned on a weekly basis by the bigger organizations. Also, they are totally reliant on one of those bigger organizations, Roush Fenway Racing, for engines, chassis and technical support. That automatically puts them behind the more heavily supported teams from Ford and other manufacturers.
The trouble for Ford is that their lead horses have failed to keep pace with powerful Hendrick Motorsports of Chevrolet and Joe Gibbs Racing of Toyota. Both RFR and newcomer Penske Racing have underperformed to date this year.
The bottom line for Marcos Ambrose and other Ford drivers, Richard Petty Motorsports and Ford Racing is that there have been very few chances to win this year. The pressure is on at Watkins Glen to get the job done because who knows when the next opportunity will come.
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