Race Weekend Central

Marcos Ambrose Successfully Defends His Crystal in the 2009 Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Marcos Ambrose is a forgetful person, apparently. As part of his prize last year for winning at Watkins Glen, he was presented with a golden lighter, courtesy of Zippo. He then proceeded to lose the lighter. It eventually popped up randomly a few months later.

Now, he’s got a second one to go with it.

Ambrose had a very fast car all day, posting the second fastest time in the European-style qualifying session in the morning. He lost out on the pole position by just three one-hundredths of a second.

In the race, Ambrose ran very well, staying in the top 10 for nearly the entire event. Once the pit strategy played out, Ambrose found himself in second behind points leader Kyle Busch. Ambrose trailed Busch for a number of laps before getting the jump on him whilst braking for the Inner Loop. No contact was made, but Busch missed the bus-stop chicane, while Ambrose flew into the lead.

From there, Ambrose led the rest of the way and repeated his victory from last year in the 16th running of the Zippo 200. The margin of victory was 1.082 seconds.

Kyle Busch dropped back to third after having to come to a complete stop after missing the Inner Loop. However, he passed Carl Edwards for second with a daring pass on the outside in turns 1 and 2 in order to claim second.

After the race, Ambrose was very happy with the result.

“It was just an awesome day for all of us,” Marcos said during the post-race press conference. “It’s our first Nationwide race [of the year] and we won it. STP has two wins in two years and that’s awesome.”

The turning point of Saturday’s race was most definitely Ambrose’s banzai move on the backstretch on Kyle Busch.

“I knew if I waited until the last 10 laps [that] he was going to do everything he could to block me, so I just tried to surprise him,” Ambrose said. “I surprised myself [when I did it].”

Second-place finisher Kyle Busch was not so pleased with his result, despite recording his record-breaking 10th straight top-two finish.

“It wasn’t a bad day I guess,” Kyle said. “The car wasn’t the best that it could’ve been I don’t think. Unfortunately, we may have missed on something and I’m not sure what.”

As for Ambrose’s moves, Busch pulled no punches.

“I think it was a little aggressive getting into the bus stop but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win,” Busch said. “I wouldn’t have made [that move] because I would’ve wrecked and I think we would’ve wrecked if one of the cars didn’t give… which [was me].”

Behind Ambrose and Busch was Edwards in third. Polesitter Kevin Harvick finished fourth and road-course ringer Ron Fellows rounded out the top five. Jeff Burton finished sixth, followed by the Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and David Ragan. Brad Keselowski finished ninth and Scott Speed in the Red Bull No. 99 rounded out the top 10. Speed was running in the top five before dropping back at the very end.

The most controversial moment of the race occurred when Robby Gordon and Joey Logano came together at the exit of turn 9 on lap 70. Earlier in the race, the two cars had bumped each other, blowing out Gordon’s left-front tire. After Gordon returned to the track, the two bumped again in the Inner Loop. While Tony Raines spun the Long John Silver’s Dodge behind them, Gordon rooted Logano off the road and into the tires hard at the exit of turn 9, near where Jason Leffler crashed on Friday. Gordon was not penalized for the contact and received the free pass during the caution.

Afterwards, Logano was quoted as saying “You can’t fix stupid. Stupid is forever,” in response to Robby’s actions.


About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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