A NASCAR ruling cost Marcos Ambrose his first career Sprint Cup Series victory Sunday when he stalled his car under a late caution at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and was forced to forfeit his lead to Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson went on to win his first career Cup race on a road course and ended a 10-week victory drought for the four-time defending series champion.
Ambrose, who led 35 laps, had to settle for sixth after coughing up yet another chance at a victory.
“My bad,” the Australian said. “Just feel really disappointed. Might not like the call, but it is what it is. I know the rule. It’s a judgment call.”
Ambrose, a road racing ace, was cruising to a long-awaited victory when caution for a Brad Keselowski spin threw a roadblock in his path. Instructed by his crew chief to conserve fuel, Ambrose flipped his engine on and off as he circled the winding 1.99-mile course.
But his Toyota apparently stalled, and six cars weaved around his unmoving Toyota. Although Ambrose got his car restarted and moved back to the front of the field, NASCAR ordered him back to seventh for “failing to maintain reasonable speed” right before the restart.
That gave Johnson the lead and he sailed away for his fourth win of the season, but first since Bristol in March.
Ambrose crew chief Frank Kerr visited NASCAR officials after the race, and said he understood the ruling. But asked if he was “content” with the ruling, he said only “no comment.”
Robby Gordon finished second in a Toyota for his highest finish of the season, and series points leader Kevin Harvick was third in a Chevrolet. Defending race winner Kasey Kahne finished fourth in a Ford and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.
Biffle was seventh and was followed by Boris Said, Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Tony Kanaan overtook Helio Castroneves with 10 laps left and held on to win the Iowa Corn Indy 250, erasing three years of frustration at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
It was the first win since 2008 for Kanaan, who last took the checkered flag in Richmond two years ago. Kanaan had crashed in each of his first three starts at Iowa, but he zipped past Castroneves on lap 240 and cruised to victory by over four seconds.
Castroneves finished second and E.J. Viso was a career-best third. Penske teammates Ryan Briscoe and pole winner Will Power rounded out the top five.
Danica Patrick finished 10th. Dario Franchitti, a two-time winner in Iowa, had mechanical issues with 50 laps left and finished 18th.
John Force regained the points lead with his NHRA-record 130th career win at the 10th annual Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.
The other winners at the 12th race in the 23-race Full Throttle Series season were Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock).
After qualifying sixth, Force defeated Paul Lee, Matt Hagan and Bob Tasca to reach his 207th career final round where he easily topped Tim Wilkerson with a 4.317-second pass at 285.59 mph to Wilkerson’s 12.365 at 31.80.