Surprising struggles: Marcos Ambrose’s day in Sonoma ‘a handful’

While Marcos Ambrose led five laps on Sunday, he was never really a factor for the win at Sonoma Raceway. 

Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

Whenever the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the road courses in Sonoma and Watkins Glen, Marcos Ambrose is expected to be in contention for the win throughout the day.

Yet, in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, Ambrose and his Richard Petty Motorsports team hardly had the car to beat. Struggling with the handling of the car for much of the race, Ambrose was never really in contention to score the win.

Ambrose’s day started with an uphill battle after a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday led to a 23rd-place starting spot. While Ambrose quickly worked his way into the top 10, the road to the front of the field stalled.

As A.J. Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, and eventual race winner Carl Edwards set the pace, Ambrose struggled with the handling of his No. 9 Ford.

Leading a total of five laps, Ambrose crossed the line eighth at the end of the day as Edwards took the checkered flag.

The hard-fought finish was Ambrose’s sixth-straight top-10 finish at Sonoma, and third top-10 so far this year.

"I’ll take eighth," he said. "We came here with a commitment to try to look after our tires and had a package that wasn’t necessarily the fastest, but we thought might have kept our tires better than the rest. It didn’t quite work out that way. We had to hang on all day. The car was loose. The car was tight. The car was sliding around, but that’s what Sonoma is all about."