Ambrose third at The Glen


Marcos Ambrose, driving the No. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion, made his way through almost the entire field – he officially started 43rd – en route to a Cup series career-best third-place finish at Watkins Glen on Sunday. Ambrose was competing in just his third career race in the series, and it occurred just one day after he won his first Nationwide series race. Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, finished 12th to move back into the top 12 of the season, just four races before the start of the Chase.

MARCOS AMBROSE press conference

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion (finished 3rd) – YOU STARTED TOWARD THE BACK AND FINISHED THIRD. “It’s just a great weekend all around. I thought yesterday was great, but when I wound up there on that red flag, I realized where I was. I was behind Tony and in front of all those other great drivers. We came up out of the truck so well yesterday, in practice we were too scared to change anything, and the car was flopping around a lot during the race. It had a lot of grip, it was just real tough to drive. So I just tried to stay clean as best I could there and pass cars cleanly, and just pick away at it. You know, I really had no idea where we were at until the last pit stops. We cycled through about sixth place, so it’s just a great day all along. I’m just so proud of the Wood Brothers for giving me a piece that I could get out there and give it my best, and Little Debbie and the McKee family for giving me the chance to go Cup racing. I don’t want to be labeled a road racer, by the way, too. I am 10th in the Nationwide series points, so I’m trying to make it as a NASCAR driver full stop, not just a road racer. I’m just really excited that I’ve been given an opportunity and I’ve able to be making the most of it. You know, you don’t get many chances in life to do something special like this, and today I’m going to look back at very fondly – the whole weekend, to be honest with you. I’m just really proud of both my times, and I hope it can give the Wood Brothers a shot in the arm that they need to really get the momentum to move forward.”

WERE YOU BRAKES IFFY ON THE LAST RESTART? AND WAS THERE EVER A CHANCE THAT YOU COULD TRY TO DIVE PAST TONY STEWART? “I just really want to be respectful to the guys out there who are doing it week-in and week-out. It’s not my place to stick my nose in and ruin someone else’s day that’s fighting for the chance. If I was going to pass Tony, I was going to do it clean. I really thought about it, I wanted to have a crack at it, but I just wasn’t close enough, I didn’t get the run up the hill through the esses to get him into the bus stop. So, the difference between second and third today was small, compared to the negative it would’ve had had I taken out one of these Chase guys and got a bad reputation. So, I wanted to badly have a crack a Tony at the end there. I thought better of it when I just didn’t have the run that I needed to to make a clean pass.”

FOR THE RECORD, HOW MANY CARS DID YOU PASS TO GET THAT TRACK POSITION? “It felt like I passed everyone three times. Some guys, just through the cycle of pit stops, I did pass three or four times out there. We passed quite a few on the track, we passed quite a few in the pits, too, just with our strategy. I wasn’t overtaken all day, which I’m proud of, and we did a lot of passing. You have to have the right strategy when you come from the back. It’s not all about passing cars out there, it’s about having the right calls in the pits, too. And David Hyder did a great job, stopping us at the right time so I could make it home on the gas, and it’s just been a great day. It’s been a great two days on strategy, to be honest with you, because we managed really well yesterday, as well.”

YOU ALSO GAVE A SHOT IN THE ARM TO THE WOOD BROTHERS TODAY. HOW IS IT THAT YOU CONSULTED WITH THEIR ENGINEERS, SUCH AS HOYT OVERBAGH? “It’s actually quite strange because the guys that I had at Sonoma aren’t the same crew chief and Hoyt wasn’t with us when we were at Sonoma when we ran really well, too. So, we had a car that was sort of mothballed after Sonoma, we tested at Atlanta, and it’s like, ‘What do we do?’ The new guy’s in want to change it, I know that car was good – it had tested at Atlanta – I didn’t want to change it. So, we were debating during the week what we should or shouldn’t do, and then with limited time on Saturday, we decided that the best thing to do was just roll it out like we tested because I thought it was a pretty safe package. It’s just been great. It’s been great working with Hyder for the first time. I’m driving for three teams this year; it’s the first time I’ve ever done that. So, I’m losing helmets and earplugs, boots and all kinds of things because I’m so disorganized between the three trailers. It’s just a lot of fun to work with new guys, and they’re top notch. They got me a great piece and got me everything I asked for today.”

THAT WAS THE FIRST TOP-FIVE FOR THE WOOD BROTHERS IN MORE THAN THREE YEARS. HOW MUCH DID THE TEAM NEED THIS? “Well, I felt bad for breaking the gearbox at Sonoma because I think we were going on for a strong top-10 there for them. But they’ve had a tough run, there’s no doubt about that, and I hope I can play my part in helping them get back on track. The problem is bigger than one person. This is a tough sport. You’ve got to be 100-percent committed and have the resources and everything behind you to make it work. I hope they can turn it around, and it’s just great that I can give them a bit of a lift, but, like I said, they’ve got a long road ahead, and hopefully they can get it done.”

YOU’RE WATCHING THAT BIG WRECK ON THE MONITORS. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS NOW THAT YOU’VE SEEN IT? “That’s pretty big. I’m pleased I wasn’t in the back. That’s just a mess right there. Nothing you can say. I just hope everyone’s all right. I guess they are.”

YOU SAID THIS MORNING THAT LAST NIGHT, AFTER YOUR NATIONWIDE WIN, WAS KIND OF QUIET AND YOU WENT TO BED EARLY, BUT YOU GOT A LOT OF PHONE CALLS FROM AUSTRALIA. WHAT’S TONIGHT GOING TO BE LIKE? “I’ve got a three-year-old and a one-year-old back at home, so if I have to big a night it’s going to be really painful on Monday, so I’ll have a couple of cans – everyone was asking me what cans were last night. Beer cans, by the way, not soda. Beer cans. But, just really excited. It’s a great weekend. I’m going to enjoy it when I get back to Charlotte. I’ve dragged my family a long way, away from immediate friends and family down home, and it’s just a lot of commitment. When you have a weekend like this, it just validates the choices that I’ve made to come across here and have a go at it. It’s a big, bad world out here in NASCAR world, and I’m just pleased that I’m able to have a weekend like this to remember. When it’s all said and done, I’ll be able to home back to Tasmania and tell them how good I was at Watkins Glen on one year.”

ARE YOU RUNNING BOTH RACES NEXT WEEK? “Yeah, we’ve got a fair chance of getting humbled next week, so I’m going to have a really good five days to enjoy it, and we’ll try to qualify the 21 car in at Michigan, and we’ll take hold of that 59 car in the Nationwide series, too.”

YESTERDAY YOU MENTIONED YOU WERE GOING TO CELEBRATE A LITTLE. HOW MANY DID YOU HAVE, AND ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE IT A TRADITION? AFTERALL, YOU HAD TWO GOOD DAYS IN A ROW… “You know, I’ve got two little girls at home, and I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning have a great day with them and just enjoy it. I’ll celebrate it with my crew when we get back to Charlotte, and I’ll celebrate with my family. But, we’ve got a race next week. I’ve gone down this road before and races come and go, and you’ve got to try and stay level. You don’t want to get too high when the going’s good, and you don’t want to get too low when the going’s bad. So, we’ll enjoy it. I’ll speak to my dad here in a minute, back in Australia. He’s waiting for a phone call so I can tell him all about it. But, just really excited that we finished the deal. I really just wanted to finish today – especially there the last 15 laps there. I didn’t want to ruin the day by making mistakes. I just wanted to finish and we’ve done that. All my guys on the Wood Brothers side should be proud and it’s just going to be great to enjoy it tonight.”

DAVID HYDER – crew chief, No. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion – “I’ll tell you what, he could be the very best road-course driver I’ve ever seen. It all worked out. We came out third, so I’m happy and tickled to death.” THE 21 STARTED IN THE BACK. WAS THERE A TIME WHEN YOU KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY? “You know, I kept watching his lap times and they didn’t fall off in a long run like a lot of the cars did. He stayed consistent and kept the car under him all day, and we looked at the tires there the first stop, at that point in time I figured it was going to be a pretty good day if everything fell our way from there on out.”

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MOMENTUM? AND WHAT CAN YOU TAKE OUT OF THIS RACE? “Anytime you can finish in the top five in this series, you’re doing your job and certainly it’ll help us in the future. But, we’ll take it into Michigan next week and work on the car and get it where we need it and take it from there.”

EDDIE WOOD – co-owner, No. 21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion – WHEN DID YOU KNOW IT WAS GOING TO BE A GOOD DAY? “About five minutes ago. You could feel all day long that nothing went wrong and your pit stops are okay and everybody did what they ought to do and were supposed to do, you feel like it’s going to be a good day. On that restart there, the 42 was really good early in a run, and I was really afraid it was going to race pretty hard there, but fortunately the 1 got to the 42 and kind of slowed him up and we got gone. I was worried about that.”

YOU KNEW YOU HAD A GOOD DRIVER ON ROAD COURSES, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE DAY YOUR CREW CHIEF HAD TODAY? “Actually, everything went really well. Marcos has done one heck of a job, for his first time here in a Cup car and all that. We needed this so badly because I think this is our first top-five – you tell me, I don’t know but it’s been a long time. Hyder came on board with his people. It’s just made a world of difference. We ran well last week at Pocono; we had a good car at Sonoma also, but this car was really good today. Mike Smith and Dave Simba took it to Atlanta last week and tested it, and all that stuff worked well and blended right in what Hyder and Hoyt [Overbagh] were doing, and it all fell into place. Sometimes things will fall into place for you.”

CAN YOU CARRY MOMENTUM FROM THIS RACE MOVING FORWARD? “Anytime you have a good run, it creates enthusiasm and all that, and we’re taking the Pocono car, that ran pretty well at Pocono, we’re taking it to Michigan next week. We’re re-doing all of our race cars right now. We’ve got about two of them ready and that’s one of them.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (finished 12th) – YOU’VE HAD TWO GOOD FINISHES ON ROAD COURSES THIS YEAR AND YOU’RE BACK IN THE TOP 12. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the points until after Richmond, really. We didn’t really run that great. We had a real average car, and we had a real above average strategy and pit crew, so those guys got me the good finish, really.”

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