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


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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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change