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Almost Doesn't Count When It Comes To Marcos Ambrose

Dustin ParksAnalyst IJune 22, 2010

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 18:  Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #47 Clorox Toyota, sits in his car prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 18, 2010 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Seven laps. It all happened with seven laps to go.

Marcos Ambrose could see the checkered flag of Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 in his sights. His No. 47 Clorox Toyota at the head of the field. He was ahead of the dominant car of Jimmie Johnson, and closing in on his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Under caution, he gets word from the crew to conserve fuel, just in case of a green-white-checkered finish.

An odd request as the last round of pit stops would give him enough fuel for such a run. But, in the cockpit of his car, Ambrose cut off the engine to save some Sunoco fuel in the fuel cell.

Then, the engine died, it wouldn't start, and he coasted to a stop coming up the hill. His engine then refired, and he continued back to the lead position.

Unfortunately, at that moment, his race was over.

We all discussed it, but the rule is that all cars must maintain speed behind the pace car under caution. Much like coming to pit road, if the leaders come in for service, they lose their spots and fall in line.

Ambrose made a fatal error, or at the least a fatal loss of memory.

This happened to Ambrose once in the Nationwide Series as well. One year ago, he was leading at Montreal, as he kept position despite rain coming over the speedway. It didn't matter whether he was on slicks or rain tires, his car was perfect.

That was until the last corner.

With Carl Edwards on his bumper, he entered the final two corners ready to hold off his challenge. But, fate stepped in.

He jumped the curb in the last corner, his left side tires going in the air, and Edwards made the pass.

Ambrose had the win in his grasp, but made one miscue.

Sunday, it happened again. Ambrose finished sixth, while Johnson went on to win.

Last season, Ambrose surprised everyone at how well he could run not just on a road course, but at all the different tracks. His best track outside of Infineon and Watkins Glen is Bristol, where he has finished runner-up and third in both of last year's races.

This team can win races, they just need to have some luck on their side. Ambrose is a very capable driver and is running great equipment. His car comes from the same shop as the cars of David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. It's good equipment and he's got great backing.

It's unfortunate that a lapse in judgment cost Ambrose a victory. The best thing he did after the race was admit that he messed up.

He didn't try and place blame, nor did he cry about it. He was unhappy, which is expected.

But, he made no excuses. Ambrose looked every crew member, media outlet, and looked at himself in a mirror and said he screwed up.

Montreal was his first missed chance; Sunday was his second.

Maybe the third time will finally be the charm.

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