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Marcos Ambrose: Montreal owes me a Nationwide Series victory

Marcos Ambrose
Marcos Ambrose

By Lee Montgomery
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

Marcos Ambrose might seem like a glutton for punishment by racing in this weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

But coming off his first Sprint Cup victory last weekend, maybe Ambrose is due in Montreal.

Ambrose has been dominant at the 2.709-mile road course, leading 149 of 276 laps run over the four years of the Montreal race. Yet, circumstances, mistakes and mechanical problems have kept him from victory lane.

"The track does owe me a win," Ambrose said. "I've tried four times. I've led more laps than anybody else. I feel like I just need to lead the last one this year, not lead the most laps."

Ambrose is entered in a Richard Petty Motorsports Ford this weekend and will have the handicap of starting from the rear of the field, as he'll miss qualifying since he'll be at Michigan International Speedway for his Cup duties.

But maybe that'll help, as chances are good he won't be able to lead the most laps after starting in the back.

"It's going to be a real challenge to get to the front," Ambrose said. "We've got some great drivers from Canada racing in the event. Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Tagliani, Patrick Carpentier come to mind. They're going to be starting at the front. They're going to be looking after their brakes and tires. They've got a real chance to win the race.

"We have to rely on some cautions to get track position. I think it's possible to win from the back, but it's going to be a real challenge."

Ambrose has another challenge in simply making the race. He's flying from Michigan with Carl Edwards and estimates he'll arrive at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve about 20 minutes before he's supposed to climb in his No. 9 Ford.

"It's going to be really tight," Ambrose said. "So I think we just have to play our strategies right. Hopefully everything goes to plan getting through customs, weather with the plane, making sure the helicopter gets us to where we need to be at the track."

Fellow Australian Owen Kelly will practice and qualify Ambrose's car, but Ambrose's experience and stellar record at Montreal shouldn't make his lack of 2011 practice too much of a hindrance.

"I think the fans are in for a spectacular race," Ambrose said. "You have two races going on at once. You have the guys that have been there all weekend racing at the front and you've got myself and Carl starting from the back trying to get track position and be there at the end. It's going to be interesting."

It usually is in Montreal for Ambrose.

Fast facts

Napa Auto Parts 200

Where: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve; Montreal

When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN, 2 p.m.
Radio: MRN-Sirius/XM Satellite Ch. 90

Track layout: 2.709-mile road course

Race distance: 74 laps/200.46 miles

Qualifying: Friday, 5:05 p.m. ET

2010 winner: Boris Said

2010 polesitter: Marcos Ambrose

Points standings: 1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 816; 2. Reed Sorenson, 806; 3. Elliott Sadler, 792; 4. Aric Almirola, 746; 5. Justin Allgaier, 736; 6. Jason Leffler, 703; 7. Kenny Wallace, 686; 8. Steve Wallace, 636; 9.Brian Scott, 626; 10. Michael Annett, 623.