Ambrose says he couldn’t “deliver” as lead Penske driver

LAUNCESTON, Australia (AP) Former NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose says he asked to be temporarily replaced as a driver in Australia’s V8 Supercars Series because he couldn’t ”deliver what’s expected of me” as a lead driver at DJR Team Penske.

On March 17, Ambrose said through a statement released by team owner Roger Penske that he needed more experience in the Australian series where he won championships in 2003 and 2004. He spent six years in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series but returned to Australia at the end of 2014.

Ambrose’s top finish in two races this season was 12th. He was replaced for this weekend’s V8 race in his home state of Tasmania by Scott Pye.

”I can’t deliver what’s expected of me as that lead driver in the circumstances that are around me,” Ambrose said Friday at the Symmons Plains track in Tasmania.

”The feel that I’m getting from the car is not what it used to be. Testing restrictions, tire restrictions, the weekend formats are pretty condensed and so I’m learning on the fly.”

He said it wasn’t an easy decision.

”I don’t want to get out of the car,” he said. ”I love racing cars, that’s what I do for a living but the team can’t wait for a driver to get re-acclimatized. Races cost money, serious money, and as a minimum I will be doing the co-driver races for them and the co-driver testing during the race weekends and we’ll just see how it goes.”

There has been speculation in the Australian media that Ambrose, who returned to Australia so his children could attend school here, might return to NASCAR.

”We’re going to have a really good, hard look at ourselves after Symmons Plains and see how our first three races have gone and we’ll start making calls from there,” he said. ”We’re not hiding anything from anybody, we just don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

Ambrose went to the U.S. in 2006 in pursuit of a NASCAR career, but never found regular success driving stock cars. He won just two races for Richard Petty Motorsports, both on the Watkins Glen road course.