Former NASCAR racer Marcos Ambrose logged his first set of Australian V8 Supercar races in more than nine years at the Sydney 500 overnight.
The ex-Richard Petty Motorsports man crashed in qualifying before the first of two 125-kilometer sprint races on Saturday, forcing him to start Race 1 from the back. Issues with the braking set-up on his No. 66 Xbox Ford Falcon hampered the Tasmanian and forced him to finish 20th.
Race 2 saw Ambrose peel off three positions by Turn 1 at the start but that was immediately ruined by a tap from another competitor that spun him around. Ambrose quickly recovered, but a major storm soon forced race officials to throw the red flag at Lap 19.
The cars would get back on track behind the safety car but never resumed racing, and Ambrose had to take a 22nd place result.
“It hasn’t been the day we were hoping for,” Ambrose said. “It started with my mistake completely in qualifying. I missed a shift and caused some trouble damaging the right front. So we started off the back for both races. I had good starts both times which is a positive, I guess, and did have good car speed when we were running in clean air.
“It is very tough to pass here so I am really learning on the run. The rain made it pretty interesting too.”
Ambrose will try to salvage the weekend with a solid result in the 250-kilometer feature. Qualifying for that race is set for tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET with the main event later on at 11:40 p.m. ET.
“We are going to change the brakes around and see if we can get a bit more comfort there for me,” he said of how he and his DJR Team Penske squad plan to regroup. “That is the biggest area, as I just can’t seem to stop the car consistently well. Our target is to qualify in the teens…and we will work on the set up again tonight.”
Jamie Whincup, who has already clinched the 2014 driver’s championship, swept both of Saturday’s sprint races.