Marcos Ambrose decision to leave RPM, NASCAR due to family, desire to return to Australia

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JOLIET, Ill. – Homesickness and family.

Those are the two primary reasons Marcos Ambrose cited Saturday after Richard Petty Motorsports announced he will not return to drive the No. 9 Stanley Ford in 2015.

“The time was just right for me to stop,” Ambrose told reporters. “I feel like the timing was right for myself and my family to return to Australia.

“I wanted to get my kids home to enjoy the Australian lifestyle as well so they can make that choice when they grow up. At the end of the day, this was a racing choice for me and I feel like the time is right for me to stop here in the U.S. and personally I think it’s time for me to move back home with my family.”

Ambrose, who turned 38 on Sept. 1, refused to speak about the next chapter of his racing career, but numerous reports in recent months have him returning to the Australian V8 Supercars Series.

“Today isn’t the day to talk about my racing future,” Ambrose said. “I just feel like personally this was the right choice for myself and my family to call it a day here in the U.S. and start my next chapter.”

Ambrose won the Supercars championship in 2003 and 2004, and finished third in 2005 before beginning his NASCAR career the following season in the Camping World Truck Series.

MORE: Marcos Ambrose to leave Richard Petty Motorsports, returning to native Australia

The move wasn’t completely unexpected.

“This decision was made some time ago and RPM felt like today was the day to announce it,” Ambrose said. “We had been talking about this since before the summer.”

Ambrose initially raced on the Sprint Cup Series for JTG Daugherty Racing, but moved to RPM in 2011.

“They understand,” Ambrose said of RPM and team co-owner Richard Petty Motorsports. “We’ve been very open and frank all the way through.

“Richard Petty Motorsports has been a great team to drive for and they totally understand my personal situation and we’ve worked together on this.”

During his tenure with RPM, Ambrose won two Sprint Cup races and two Nationwide Series races, all at Watkins Glen. He has another win at Watkins Glen for JTG-D.

As for leaving RPM, Ambrose said, “I feel like I’ve left them better than when I entered with them. I feel like I have contributed to their turn around.

“They are a great team and they are moving forward and are in the Chase this year (with teammate Aric Almirola). We’ve won races. … When I first joined them in the turmoil of the Gillett (former team co-owner George Gillett) changeover (at the end of 2010), there were a lot of gray clouds circling over them.

“They are on a great path and I wish them the best, I value Richard’s friendship greatly and the family and everyone here at RPM and I wish them all the success.”

On a more personal note, Ambrose was thankful for the opportunities that JGT-D and RPM gave him.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “I never thought I would have achieved what I have done at the Sprint Cup level and I’ve survived here for the past couple of years.

“I’ve had some wins and I haven’t had enough. I feel like I was up against it early on with just my (Supercars) background. I hadn’t done any oval racing.

“I came from a country that doesn’t have any actual asphalt oval racing at all. And so I feel like I achieved a lot during my time here.

“(NASCAR racing is) not easy. It really is a tough environment. It is an incredible thing to make it to the Sprint Cup level because the talent level is very high from the drivers, the engineers and the sponsors. It just is an amazing journey I’ve been on.”

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NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.