The 2.45-mile road course was not empty for long today here at Watkins Glen International. Starting this morning with Nationwide Series Qualifying, the track was hot for the duration of the day, finishing with a fantastic Zippo 200.
The Nationwide Series race here at Watkins Glen was dominated by Marcos Ambrose since the #47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Toyota was rolled off the hauler. The #47 car sealed the top starting spot in this morning’s Coors Light Qualifying with a time of 122.410 mph. At a place where starting spot is crucial and almost directly related to finishing position.
Marcos ensured he would not have to pass many cars in his quest to become only the second driver in Nationwide Series History to win three-consecutive series races at Watkins Glen International. The only other driver to accomplish this feat was Terry Labonte, winning here at The Glen from 1994 to 1996.
When it came time for the green flag to drop, Ambrose wasted no time stating that his machine was the car to beat. Ambrose lead the first 18 laps after Crew Chief Frank Kerr decided to play the fuel strategy game and stay out about five laps longer than the rest of the field.
The first major incident occurred on lap 25 when the 38 car of Jason Leffler got of shape coming out of turn one following a caution for debris. One of the drivers involved was the 12 car of Justin Allgaier, who said following the accident “I saw the 38 get out of shape coming out of (Turn) 1. I knew that he was going to probably be more than I wanted to see. Unfortunately, he came back across the race track. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to go. Its s so tight right there going into (Turn) 2 that you’re just at the mercy of everybody else making sure that nobody gets bottled up and blocks the race track. That’s what happened and we ended up paying the price for it.”
Following a 25-minute red flag to clean up the mess at the entrance of turn 2, racing resumed with the 20 car of Joey Logano shown in P1. It did not take long for Kyle Busch to get his turn at leading the race with a pass on Logano on lap 27. He would ride out a lead for 14 laps before eventual race-winner Marcos Ambrose finessed his way to the lead on lap 40.
The pass came on the backstretch’s Bus Stop chicane in tremendous fashion. Ambrose spoke of setting up Busch for the lead; “He’s hard to pas and whenever you’re going to do it you’ve got to do it in style. I couldn’t pass him (Kyle Busch) on straight-line speed. He just had too much top end on us so I just waited for some lapped traffic to try and get around him and just out-foxed him there coming across the top of the hill.”
Kyle Busch had one more opportunity on a lap 66 restart to try and get past Ambrose, but the Aussie proved to be just down right too quick. Ambrose rode his lead right to victory lane, a place he is extremely familiar with here at The Glen.
Ambrose speaking about his win in the Zippo 200 following the race, “It’s just a huge win for us. Frank Kerr (crew chief) has been so good to my career and I have to thank him so much for every opportunity he gets me to victory lane. What a great day for our guys. I’m saying goodbye to JTG Daugherty Racing at the end of the year and it’s just nice to get some wins for them…We’ve got another job to do tomorrow so not too many beers tonight.”
The top three starters remained unchanged when the checkered flag waived on the Zippo 200 as it was Ambrose in first, Joey Logano second, and Kevin Harvick in third. Points leader Brad Keselowski finished in fourth, lengthening his lead in the standings. The 18-car of Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five.
On the Sprint Cup side, Carl Edwards won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen (25th running) with a lap of 70.882 seconds, 124.432 mph. This is his first pole here at Watkins Glen with his best start of third came in 2008. Points leader Kevin Harvick will start 20th and defending race champion will start 6th.
More to come tomorrow from The Glen!