Ambrose pasess Busch late, wins for the second time at Watkins Glen InternationalBy John Kekis, AP
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Ambrose wins again at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. —A year ago Marcos Ambrose used pit strategy to win at Watkins Glen International. The second time around he used a little aggression.
The hard-charging Tasmanian passed series points leader Kyle Busch with a daring move through the chicane Saturday and won the Nationwide Zippo 200 for the second straight year for JTG-Daugherty Racing.
It was the 10th consecutive top-two finish in Nationwide for Busch, breaking the series record set by Jack Ingram in 1983. Carl Edwards was third, followed by polesitter Kevin Harvick and Canadian road racer Ron Fellows. Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt, finished 24th in his Nationwide debut.
Busch started seventh and gained the lead for the first time in the 82-lap race over the 11-turn, 2.45-mile road course when he passed Steven Wallace on a restart in the first turn of lap 49. It marked the 19th straight series race Busch has led, tying Sam Ard’s series record.
Ambrose, who started second, also moved past Wallace, and when Paul Menard brought out the fourth caution with a spin on lap 52, Ambrose’s crew assured him he had enough fuel to make it to the end.
“We need to get him (Busch) on the restart and just cruise,” said Ambrose’s crew chief, Frank Kerr.
The caution also gave Busch the fuel cushion he needed, and he withstood Ambrose’s hard charge when the race went green on lap 56.
Ambrose stalked Busch for six laps and finally passed him entering the chicane at the top of the high-speed esses.
“I had to surprise him,” Ambrose said after just his second NASCAR victory. “We didn’t have the top-end speed to make a classic pass. I knew I had to bomb him some way. He wasn’t going to make a mistake. I was going to have to force one on him. I just stormed up in there. I knew it was a high-risk move, but it needed to be made.”
Forced to the side after near contact with Ambrose, Busch had to stop in the paved runoff area to avoid a penalty, then got back in line in third.
“I think we would have wrecked if one of the cars didn’t give,” said Busch, who now leads Edwards in the standings by 212 points. “I don’t think it was a fair move. It won the race and he had to do something. Yea for him. I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
“I’ve seen Kyle knocks guys out for the win,” Ambrose said. “He clearly reacted late to me. I don’t know what he’s got to complain about. I passed him without touching.”
When Robby Gordon blew his right front tire two laps later after a run-in with Joey Logano, it brought out another caution and set up a double-file restart with Busch and Ambrose side-by-side.
“Is he mad at me or not?” Ambrose asked over his radio.
“I felt like I got cheap-shotted there,” said Busch, who banged fenders with Ambrose after the checkered flag to show his dismay. “I had no idea he was there. I had to do what I had to do. I would have wrecked.”
Ambrose elected to take the inside on the double-file restart and got the jump as Edwards briefly got past Busch. But just as Ambrose began to pull away, Gordon and Logano tangled again. Gordon ran Logano off course into a tire barrier on lap 72, crumbling the hood on Logano’s No. 20 Toyota and causing a fire that brought out another caution.
“Apparently, we got in a little grudge match after I cut down his tire,” Logano said after visiting the care center. “It’s a pretty raw deal. You can’t fix stupid, it’s forever. You put that in your memory bank.”
Ambrose easily got clear of Busch on the final restart with six laps remaining and won by just over a second.
(This version CORRECTS SUBS 8th graf to correct to “six laps” sted “12″)