Ill-handling car relegates favored Marcos Ambrose to 8th-place finish at Sonoma

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Marcos Ambrose appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Most of his fellow Sprint Cup competitors picked him to win, many top oddsmakers picked him, as well as a number of fans and media prognosticators.

But instead of finally getting that elusive first victory at Sonoma, Ambrose wound up with a still-respectable eighth-place finish.

So what happened?

How is it that Ambrose, who has twice won at Sprint Cup’s other road course – Watkins Glen – remains winless at Sonoma after his most recent outing?

It wasn’t so much the driver but more so an ill-handling race car. Ambrose gave it everything he could, but his Ford Fusion just couldn’t find the right balance in Sunday’s race.

“It was a handful,” Ambrose told TNT after the race. “We came with the strategy – we had the fastest car for a couple of laps and then it would fade really bad – and we came with a really soft package. I was hanging on to it all day too.”

While Ambrose remains winless at Sonoma, there’s still some consolation that he earned his sixth top-10 finish in seven career starts at the twisting road course in California’s wine country.

“We have to keep working on this place to try and make ourselves better,” Ambrose said. “Congratulations to Carl (race winner Carl Edwards). He did a great job to win the race, and it’s good to see Ford back in victory lane.”

Ambrose will go for his third win at Watkins Glen in August. Including Sunday’s finish, Ambrose now has a total of 11 combined top-10 finishes in 13 starts at NASCAR’s two road courses.

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UPDATE 2: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama once again under red-flag race stoppage

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UPDATE No. 2: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was closing in on restarting on Lap 23 or 24 before officials threw the second red flag race stoppage because of lingering puddles on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park, particularly on the front stretch. We’ll keep you updated as situations warrant.

UPDATE No. 1: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.