Marcos Ambrose is a driver that has gone winless in a Sprint Cup career that has to this point spanned 98 races. He could very easily have at least one to his credit though.
One year ago, Ambrose was leading late in the race at Sonoma, when inexplicably, he shut his car off in an attempt to save fuel while under caution. He was unable to get his car refired momentarily and due to not maintaining pace lap speed, was forced to restart in sixth position, which was the spot in line he was able to refire.
Ambrose spent a few moments earlier today with members of the media discussing not only last year's heartbreak but a few other things about road racing.
The big topic of the day was what happened last year. Ambrose said, "I've lost no sleep on it. Racing is all about split-second decisions and choices you make."
He added, "I'm just looking forward to a fresh chance to go there and win. We've done all the testing preparation we can do to be ready for it."
Ambrose is clearly at peace with what happened a year ago and is ready to move on from it. He was asked again about what happened, and what he was thinking as he was trying to get the motor refired.
He answered, "We were doing great in the race, we had a good strategy, although the way it was running down, I was running out of tires, running out of fuel and getting ready for a late restart. And I don't need to look back on what happened last year; it is what it is. I couldn't get the motor refired for whatever reason."
With the disappointment of a season ago, comes newfound optimism for this year's race. Ambrose said, "This year we have a brand-new team, brand-new chief, brand-new sponsor and brand-new carburetor, so I should have no issues. Just looking forward to getting out there and trying to win it."
While there is no doubt that Ambrose is one of the best there is on the road courses, he has also began making a name for himself on the ovals. Ambrose was asked about his fondness of NASCAR's oval tracks.
Ambrose said, "Oval racing is really my passion these days. I've road raced in my life, and it's a great side of the sport, but it is not what makes NASCAR what it is. Oval racing and mile-and-a-half mile races in particular, really is, I think, the pure form of NASCAR. I can't get enough of it."
He continued on by saying, "I'm learning every time I hit the racetrack. This year more than any other, I'm starting to get a feel of what I need to run well and some of the tricks and techniques that you need with all of the people around to you help make it happen."
Ambrose then went on to discuss the differences between road racing and oval racing from more of a physical standpoint.
He said, "There's a lot going on behind the wheel. You're obviously changing gears, you're turning left and right, you're managing front and left brake pressure, sometimes you're doing it together. The track is undulating, and there's a lot of dust that's get thrown off by other cars that run across the track. There's just a lot going on on a road course."
Ambrose added, "You really have to stay very focused on your own car and not really worry about whether a guy is pulling away for a lap or two. It normally balances out."
He then transitioned to the differences between the two from a mental standpoint. Ambrose said, "I think mentally it's the toughest part. When you have not done it for a year (road racing), it just seems to mentally be really demanding and mistakes creep in."
He finished his thought by saying, "I think mistakes by drivers is the biggest thing that you see road racing compared to ovals. You can follow Tony Stewart or Matt Kenseth, at the end of a 500-mile oval race, they don't make mistakes. But when you go road racing, mistakes are part of life, and I think as drivers get tired, mistakes get more prevalent."
The common consensus in the garage is that Ambrose is on the verge of notching his first career win. While he is certainly capable of winning on an oval, most would agree that the strongest likelihood is that he will win on one of the two road courses.
One year removed from being one refiring motor away from a win, Ambrose will be on a mission this year. He has put last year's disappointment behind him and is now more focused than ever on achieving his lifelong dream of winning in NASCAR's top series.