Marcos Ambrose bows out of NASCAR with 27th-place finish

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Marcos Ambrose’s NASCAR career is now in the rear view mirror.

The Australian road course ace did not receive a good send-off, however, in Sunday’s Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

On Lap 193, Ambrose made contact with the wall and subsequently had to soldier to a 27th-place finish in his last run for Richard Petty Motorsports.

“It’s been the story of our year, just fighting and gouging and trying all the way to the very end,” he said after the race. “I finished all the laps here tonight and finished 23rd in points, so we’ll take it. It wore me out.

“…I’m just tired, to be honest with you. I’m feeling the effects of a hot night here in Miami. The car was handling rough and I was fighting it, but that’s what makes NASCAR so great.

“I’m gonna miss it, no doubt about it. It’s bittersweet for me, but I’ve got a lot to look forward to and a lot to be thankful for.”

He later tweeted the following:

Ambrose is returning home with his family to Australia, and racing-wise, the beat will go on for him as he also returns to the country’s popular V8 Supercars series.

A two-time champ in that category, Ambrose will run the V8’s 2014 season finale next month in Sydney ahead of a full-time program in 2015 for DJR Team Penske, the entity comprised of America’s Penske Racing and Aussie outfit Dick Johnson Racing.

Already, Ambrose’s impending comeback has his V8 rivals preparing to face him. Could he be the one that finally ends the dominance of Jamie Whincup, who has won the V8 title in six of the last seven seasons and clinched the 2014 title this past weekend at Phillip Island?

Time will tell, of course. But American fans are likely to miss him. As road course events became some of the most exciting on the Sprint Cup calendar, Ambrose could always be counted on as a contender that would spice things up. As my colleague Jerry Bonkowski wrote going into the Homestead weekend, that will probably be his legacy in NASCAR.

During Sunday’s pre-race driver’s meeting, Ambrose was recognized by NASCAR President Mike Helton, who wished him luck back home and invited him to “come back and see us anytime.” We’ll join him in expressing those sentiments.

Cheers, mate. It’s been fun.

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.