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Ill-handling car relegates favored Marcos Ambrose to 8th-place finish at Sonoma

Jun 22, 2014, 8:52 PM EST

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg) AP

Marcos Ambrose appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Most of his fellow Sprint Cup competitors picked him to win, many top oddsmakers picked him, as well as a number of fans and media prognosticators.

But instead of finally getting that elusive first victory at Sonoma, Ambrose wound up with a still-respectable eighth-place finish.

So what happened?

How is it that Ambrose, who has twice won at Sprint Cup’s other road course – Watkins Glen – remains winless at Sonoma after his most recent outing?

It wasn’t so much the driver but more so an ill-handling race car. Ambrose gave it everything he could, but his Ford Fusion just couldn’t find the right balance in Sunday’s race.

“It was a handful,” Ambrose told TNT after the race. “We came with the strategy – we had the fastest car for a couple of laps and then it would fade really bad – and we came with a really soft package. I was hanging on to it all day too.”

While Ambrose remains winless at Sonoma, there’s still some consolation that he earned his sixth top-10 finish in seven career starts at the twisting road course in California’s wine country.

“We have to keep working on this place to try and make ourselves better,” Ambrose said. “Congratulations to Carl (race winner Carl Edwards). He did a great job to win the race, and it’s good to see Ford back in victory lane.”

Ambrose will go for his third win at Watkins Glen in August. Including Sunday’s finish, Ambrose now has a total of 11 combined top-10 finishes in 13 starts at NASCAR’s two road courses.

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