On Tuesday, Marcos Ambrose announced he was leaving JTG Daugherty Racing at the end of the season for an unspecified destination. Some have speculated Ambrose may even return to his native Australia. Though this interview was done at Indianapolis (before he announced he would be leaving JTG Daugherty), Ambrose's answers reveal his desire to stay in NASCAR.
Who do you think is the most talented driver in NASCAR?
MA: If you just look at history, Jimmie Johnson – cool, calm, quiet, a guy with four championships in a row – is clearly the best. Results-wise, he's kicked everyone's butt. It probably will never be repeated in our lifetime, and especially in this generation. If he doesn't win another one, he's still got an unbelievable record.
As far as a pure talent, just being spectacular to watch, Kyle Busch is always on the edge. He's exceptional to watch him get around the racetrack. Some days you can pass him and some days he's lapping you. He's a talent.
When is the best time for a fan to approach you for an autograph at the track?
MA: Really anytime. There are difficulties around practice when you're trying to get from the hauler back to the race car, because that's in our work zone. It's a challenge when the garage area is hot. But I could be stopped on the street, stopped at the car, at the airport and I mean, it's great. No problems. If you have fans, you've got a job. It's a good thing.
What is something people may not know or understand about you?
MA: There's enough exposure in TV or radio and the Internet that people have a fair reflection of what I'm all about: I'm happy to be here, I'm always happy and it seems to be well-reflected in the media I've seen. People make their own decisions on what people are all about anyway, so each person's judgment will be something different from one person to the next. In fairness, I think what's out there about me and how I'm perceived is about right.
What's the worst track on the NASCAR circuit?
MA: I'm just trying to think of tracks I've run bad at. Michigan, I've run bad at from time to time, but I like the place. Martinsville, you just know you're in for a wild day there, so that's always a challenge. You know, I've raced all around the world in some pretty crazy places, so anywhere in America feels pretty good.
If you were put in charge of NASCAR, what's one thing you would change?
MA: I would make the body shapes different for each manufacturer. I would try to get the cars back to looking like road-racing cars. Each manufacturer has its own certain style, so let us get that style back on the racetrack. That's going to do two things: It's going to remind the fans of what they drive on Mondays and Tuesdays, and it might allow the field to be sliced up a little bit. Each manufacturer's going to come out with a slightly different design each year and it might change the way the cars work on different racetracks. It might make some changes in the way the races look and feel with the on-track action.
What driver do you most admire outside of NASCAR?
MA: I'd say Michael Schumacher for what he did in the 90's. He won a lot of championships, stayed on top for as long as he wanted to. He's come back now, but in the years he was getting it done, he was amazing.
What's the first thing you do when you walk in the door after a long race weekend?
MA: First thing I do is just reconnect with my kids (Ambrose has two girls – Tabitha and Adelaide). So if it's the middle of the night, I just go up and make sure they're still there and haven't walked off back to Australia with (their) mom. I just look forward to the next day when the kids wake up and I cook them breakfast and hang with the kids a little bit. That's pretty much what I like to do.
How long would you like your driving career to last?
MA: I've got unfinished business. I want to keep going until I feel like I've achieved as much as I can. It could be a couple of years, it could be 20 years. I'm still enjoying it. It's a big challenge. I've fought hard to get to where I am today, and I want to finish off the story.
Who wins the Sprint Cup in 2015?
MA: Me. That'll be two in a row for me (grins).
Do you have any superstitions when it comes to racing?
MA: I don't. I've had a run of bad luck, so I'm starting to think I need them. But no, I've been fortunate to rely on talent, skill and good people around me to get to where I am. There's no secret.
If a new driver came to you and asked one driver he should learn from and one he shouldn't, who would those two people be?
MA: I think you could learn an awful lot from everybody, but Jimmie Johnson would be the first person I'd say to try to sneak inside his brain and work out what he does. Brad Keselowski, I'd probably stay away from.
Would you rather be known as a great driver or a great person?
MA: Can I have both? Yeah. That'd be nice.