No apologies: Ambrose stands by decision to punch Mears
Marcos Ambrose won't apologize for standing up for himself after last Saturday night's race at Richmond. Team owner Richard Petty, meanwhile, wants NASCAR to further explain the penalty against his driver.
Team owner Richard Petty (right) is sticking up for his driver, Marcos Ambrose (left).
Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images
By Jared Turner
Marcos Ambrose says he and Casey Mears have come to a mutual understanding since their post-race altercation last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
In fact, Ambrose envisions the two drivers going out for a beer sometime in the foreseeable future.
But an apology for punching Mears in the face? Forget about it.
"To be honest with you, once he put his hand on me and started pushing me around, I was just trying to stand up for myself and my country and my family and my reputation, and I threw a punch down on him to get him out of the way and let him know that I didn't respect him not giving me my private space," Ambrose said at a media event on Thursday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"As it goes down, if I had my chance to think back about it, a wiser man would have walked away a little bit earlier and not got himself in that situation. I don't apologize for my actions. I was just standing up for myself and my team and my family and letting people know that you can't get in my private space like that and expect not to have any consequences."
NASCAR penalized both Ambrose and Mears on Tuesday, with Ambrose getting the stiffer of two fines ($25,000 vs. $15,000 for Mears) and both drivers being placed on probation through May 28. Neither driver was suspended, but the penalties drew negative reaction from at least one fellow driver -- Jamie McMurray -- who said on Wednesday that the punishments were too severe.
Ambrose, however, is OK with the penalty levied against him.
"I got myself in a bad situation," said the Australian. "I caused an action that NASCAR needed to reprimand, so I'm happy to pay it and happy to move on. It's a heavy fine. That's the biggest fine I've ever received in racing and I think that NASCAR needed to do something, and whatever they chose to do I'll pay it."
Team owner Richard Petty isn't happy about the penalty on his driver, noting that Ambrose wasn't responsible for starting the initial shoving match that led to the punch.
"As you can see in the tape, he did not initiate any of that," Petty said. "He was trying to get away, so I think, from that standpoint, I don't know what their (NASCAR's) rationale is. I'll just have to talk to them and see what they come up with."
Ambrose, meanwhile, corroborated Mears' statements on Monday's edition of NASCAR Race Hub that the two drivers had talked early in the week and were ready to attempt to put the incident behind them.
"We've spoken in-depth more than once," Ambrose said. "I honestly believe that we'll enjoy having a beer with each other. I think we have a mutual respect for each other. I like Casey a lot. I didn't have any beef with him after the race, but emotions just got out of hand and we both recognized that if we had our time again, it wouldn't happen again, but now that it has, you can't take back what has happened.
"I've spoken to him and I'm not carrying anything forward. He has to decide what he wants to do moving forward, but if we get ourselves in a pub somewhere I'd buy him a beer no problem."
Ambrose is also not harboring any ill feelings toward a crew member who is believed to have taken a swing at him during the Mears fracas.
"I did not get punched," Ambrose said. "I was able to duck and weave and get out of trouble. The person in question, I haven't seen the footage, so I don't know if there was a swing thrown, but there certainly was aggression at the end. I've had a phone call from somebody to apologize for his actions, and that's it for me. I've got no beef with him, either. I'm happy to move on and put the week behind us."