Former driver for Richard Petty Motorsports, Marcos Ambrose, could be hanging up his helmet as a driver.
According to reports, Ambrose, who left NASCAR following the 2014 season, will not be back in the Australian V8 Supercar Series, where he races for Dick Johnson Team Penske. Ambrose returned to his native country to race in the Supercar Series where he won back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004.
However, after just the first race behind the wheel, Ambrose stepped out of the driving role, feeling that he wasn’t the driver that he needed to be just yet.
Team owner Roger Penske has said that Ambrose wouldn’t return to his team in 2016, however Ambrose has not yet said if he will step away as a driver for good, and take on a different role. Penske said to Australia’s SpeedCafe.com that it wasn’t a situation where he was forcing Ambrose out of the driving role, but rather the decision came from his driver.
“I’ve talked to Marcos and he has made a decision that if he’s not the primary driver he doesn’t really want to be a co-driver,” Penske said. “I respect him for that. He reminds me of Rick Mears when he came to me, won Indianapolis (500) four times for us and then said, ‘At this point I just don’t have it in my gut to go as hard as you have to”. Marcos didn’t say that to me, but he said, ‘Look, I’ve come back, put my foot in the water and it’s probably not what I want to do on a going forward basis’.”
Ambrose left the Supercar Series to come to America and compete in NASCAR, where he first started with some fill-in roles at road courses before eventually signing on with JTG Daugherty. He would then move to RPM as a teammate to Aric Almirola and take over the driving duties of the No. 9 in 2011 after the release of Kasey Kahne. Ambrose would win his first race in NASCAR in 2011 at Watkins Glen, and followed it up at the same track a year ago with a last-lap pass on Brad Keselowski.
Despite the decision to step away from driving, Penske is hopeful that Ambrose decides to stick with the team in a different role.
“Hopefully he will work with us on the commercial side. He’d still come to certain key races to support us,” Penske said. “He likes some of the commercial aspects of our business, so hopefully we can tie something together there. We haven’t done that yet, but it’s something we’re interested in.”
The decision to step away from driving may be a hard one for Ambrose, but in Penske’s eyes, he’s not disappointed or hurt with the choice he made.
“I don’t think that he doesn’t want to do it (drive), but he’s at a stage at his career where he wants to be with his family and work with his dad,” Penske said. “He’s been away, he’s home now and I think that’s weighing heavily on him. It’s a personal decision.”