Former NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose has been granted his request to be temporarily relieved of his driving duties in the V8 Supercars Series to get more experience in those cars, Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske announced Tuesday. Ambrose left NASCAR last year after his sixth full Sprint Cup season to return to Australia and drive V8 Supercars. He won the V8 series titles in 2003 and ’04. Veteran driver Scott Pye will replace Ambrose in the team’s No. 17 Ford Falcon FG X from the Symmons Plains event on March 27-29.
Ambrose qualified 24th and finished 16th in the two Saturday races at Adelaide’s season opener, but he appeared to make a breakthrough for Sunday’s longer race, qualifying ninth and finishing 12th. During last weekend’s non-championship event alongside the Australian Grand Prix, his best result was 18th from four starts.
“I want to thank DJR Team Penske for the opportunity and support through the process of transitioning back into V8 Supercars,’’ Ambrose said in a statement from the team. “I would like to make it clear that I am fully committed to this team. Although this is a decision which has been hard to make, it has become clear to me over the first two events of the season that I need more experience in these cars to do what is required of the lead driver and to be competitive for the team and our partners.’’
“Scott is a great driver, has already worked with the team and has more experience in these cars, which will give the team the best chance to be successful right now. This decision to step aside from the lead driver role at DJR Team Penske is completely my decision. Although this decision may disappoint fans of whom I apologize to, I will continue be a great teammate and will be at the track to support the team in Tasmania. I look forward to getting back on the track later this season and will be ready to do my best for DJR Team Penske.”
Team owner Roger Penske stated: “I appreciate the effort that Marcos and DJR Team Penske have provided over the first two events of the season. Following the Australian Grand Prix, Marcos came to the team, requesting to be replaced from his upcoming driving responsibilities, while he continues the transition back into V8 Supercars competition. Entering the season, Marcos understood that the competition in this series is at a very high level and now realizes that more time is required for this transition.”
“This was a difficult decision for Marcos but I appreciate him thinking about the greater good of the team. Marcos will continue to support the team and our partners including competing in the Endurance Series Races.”