Race Weekend Central

Marcos Ambrose Takes 1st Win at Watkins Glen as Chaos Ensues Behind

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Monday dawned gloomy once again (Aug. 15) in Watkins Glen. Ninety minutes before the scheduled 10 a.m. start, it was very foggy at the track. Fifteen minutes before the start, it was spitting rain on pit road. However, against the notions of many people gathered at the track, NASCAR was able to get the full 90-lap (and then some) distance of the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen completed. Those fans who came back (or stayed) for Monday got their money’s worth.

Kyle Busch started from the pole but lost the advantage thanks to an ultra-aggressive move entering the esses on lap 1 by AJ Allmendinger. Shortly afterwards, Marcos Ambrose got by Busch to take second, creating a short-lived Richard Petty Motorsports 1-2.

The Inner Loop was a scene of action on Monday. Boris Said spun under braking on the second lap of the race. A couple of laps later, Kurt Busch wiped out under similar circumstances. Kurt’s No. 22 went through the grass and deposited grass all over the track. Under normal circumstances, that would have precipitated a yellow for track cleanup. However, due to the threat of rain, NASCAR kept the green out despite the slippery conditions.

Kurt Busch pitted after his spin and came out directly in front of Allmendinger. Allmendinger quickly lapped him, but Kurt Busch raced Allmendinger hard to get the lap back. On lap 9, Kurt Busch basically pushed Allmendinger off the track in the Inner Loop to get the lap back. Ambrose took the lead as a result and Allmendinger dropped back and eventually pitted.

Kyle Busch took the lead when Ambrose pitted on lap 17 and held the point while everyone else pitted around them. Greg Biffle stayed out too long on his first run and ran out of gas on lap 28, bringing out the first yellow. Ambrose reclaimed the lead when Kyle Busch pitted, but pitted himself shortly after the restart due to the fact that his FR9 engine simply didn’t get the best fuel mileage.

Kyle Busch was back out front when Kurt Busch blew a left-front tire in turn 9 and hit the tires. That brought out the second yellow on lap 50. After the restart, the final round of stops occurred as driver after driver dropped off track to make their stops.

Not long after the stops occurred, Denny Hamlin had a massive failure in the front of his car entering turn 1. As a result, Hamlin’s car went straight into the tire barrier at a high rate of speed. Hamlin was OK but his car was thrashed.

After the restart, Ambrose started picking cars off one-by-one. Once in second, he ran Kyle Busch down quickly, but was unable to get by. A blown tire on Paul Menard‘s Chevrolet in turn 4 and the resulting big crash and fire put the race under yellow and into overtime.

On the green-white-checkered restart, Kyle Busch went into turn 1 too hot, allowing Brad Keselowski and Ambrose to get by. Ambrose immediately pressured Keselowski and executed a bump-and-run to get by for the lead in turn 9. From there, he was able to hold on to take his first career Sprint Cup victory.

However, behind the leaders, chaos broke out on the final lap. Said had contact with David Ragan between turns 1 and 2 and pitched Ragan into the wall hard. Ragan then crossed the track and impacted David Reutimann. Reutimann hit the opposite wall at a severe angle, flipping the car over as a result. Mark Martin and Ron Fellows were also involved.

Following this crash, there was an altercation in the garage area between Biffle, members of his crew and Said. Bystanders noted that Biffle took a swing at Said while he was still seated in his car. Afterwards, Said got out of his car (while still wearing his helmet) and commenced to arguing with Biffle.

Said had to be restrained by Biffle’s crew to keep him away from Biffle. Afterwards, Said gave an angry interview with ESPN.com’s Ryan McGee in which he claimed that Ragan simply didn’t give him any room exiting turn 1 and he needed to be able to stay on the track. Then, the topic turned to Biffle.

“I’m more upset with Greg Biffle. He is the most unprofessional little scaredy cat I’ve ever seen in my life,” Said exclaimed. “He wouldn’t even fight me like a man afterwards. If someone texts me his address, I’ll go see him Wednesday at his house and show him what he really needs. He needs a friggin’ whooping. He’s a chump. He’ll show up at one of these races with a black eye.”

Also, Tony Stewart went straight through the grass in the Inner Loop before finally spinning and hitting the inside wall. Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards were also involved. None of the drivers were injured in either crash, but Reutimann did have a piece of debris tear a hole in his pants leg during the crash.

Afterwards, Ambrose was absolutely ecstatic about his day.

“I’ve sacrificed so much to get here and to finally win and be here in victory lane in the Cup Series is a dream come true,” Ambrose said. “I’ve traveled halfway around the world and dragged my kids and my wife with me. I kept telling them I was good, but until you can win in the Cup Series, you can’t really put that stamp on it.”

Second-place finisher Keselowski was very happy for his result as well.

“I was happy with the car from the start and was able to drive up there, make some moves,” Keselowski said. “Got up to the lead there at the end of the second segment and felt like we were one of the cars to beat. But, I just wasn’t quite good enough to pull it off there. Made a couple of mistakes at the end, lost the lead to Kyle, got back by him, then lost the lead to Marcos [Ambrose].”

Behind Ambrose and Keselowski was Kyle Busch in third. The finish was good enough to give him the points lead over Edwards via a tiebraker (Kyle Busch has three wins to Edwards’s one). Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth, his best run of 2011 thus far. Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

Kevin Harvick was sixth, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya seventh and Allmendinger came back from his early issues with Kurt Busch to finish eighth. Jeff Burton was ninth for his first top 10 of the 2011 season, while Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 10.

This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400.


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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