Roger Penske reflects on controversial Ambrose exit

Roger Penske says he has respect for Marcos Ambrose’s decision to walk away from Supercars racing in the early stages of last season.

Roger Penske reflects on controversial Ambrose exit
Marcos Ambrose, Team Penske Ford
Marcos Ambrose and Scott Pye, Team Penske Ford
Marcos Ambrose, Team Penske Ford in trouble
Marcos Ambrose, DJR/Team Penske
Marcos Ambrose, DJR/Team Penske
Dick Johnson and Marcos Ambrose, Team Penske Ford
Marcos Ambrose, Team Penske Ford

The former NASCAR race winner made a high-profile return to Australia ahead of the 2015 Supercars season, signing on to race the single-car entry for the newly-formed DJR Team Penske squad.

But the comeback was incredibly short-lived, Ambrose stepping down after just one championship round (the Clipsal 500), and the non-points races at the Australian Grand Prix. He then returned to partner Scott Pye at the endurance races, before calling it quits for good after the Gold Coast 600.

Looking back on the saga, team owner Roger Penske says there was no bad blood between the team and driver.

“It was a call he made and we supported him; he was very gracious in the way he handled it, and quite honestly I respect him,” Penske told Motorsport.com.

“It reminded me of Rick Mears when he told me in 1992 that he didn’t have it in his belly any more to go as hard as he needed to and that it was time to move on.

"Marcos didn’t say it that way, but he realized the sport had moved on and maybe he was not able to make the commitment we needed over a longer period of time.”

McLaughlin key to future

Interestingly, Ambrose’s premature retirement had a direct involvement in the team’s signing of superstar Kiwi Scott McLaughlin.

The superstar Kiwi became the team’s first choice as a new lead driver, but couldn’t be signed for the 2016 season as he was still under contract at Volvo GRM. But with that contract up at the end of the year, he’ll switch to DJR Team Penske for the 2017 season.

And that's a key signing for the team's future, according to Penske.

“We believe he’s going to be very good for us, very strong,” said Penske.

“He’s young, fast and has a lot of potential so I think he can grow with the team.”

Interview by David Malsher

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