Heluva Good Win: Marcos Ambrose Wins at Watkins Glen
To the victors goes the spoils, and to the losers, it's all over but the crying.
Monday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race certainly lived by those two sports maxims, with a first-time winner emerging in Victory Lane while a couple of aggressive racers got into it in the garage area following the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen.
Additionally, the race bore some resemblance to that of a Talladega junk yard, with the machines of David Ragan, David Reutimann, and Denny Hamlin looking more like a pile of heap than sleek stock cars.
Ultimately, it was a race that was decided on a wild late-race restart that saw Australia's Marcos Ambrose outmanuever Kyle Busch and eventual runner-up Brad Keselowski for the win, the first for the former V8 supercar standout.
"It's a dream come true," said Ambrose per AP Sports Writer John Kekis' article. "I've tried for two and a half years."
After costing himself a shot at winning his first Cup race in the 2010 race at Infineon, Ambrose redeemed himself in dramatic style. His No. 9 Ford team parlayed a conservative fuel strategy that put them in the right position at the right time towards the closing stages of the race.
As a result, he was able to pick off positions, climbing his way up towards the lead pack and eventually into the number one spot by the checkered flag.
Runner-up Brad Keselowski backed up his impressive victory at Pocono with a great run at Watkins Glen, relentless in giving room to Kyle Busch or any of his competitors during the final lap.
Leading during portions of the last lap, Ambrose got around the second-year racer in the chicane, ultimately sealing his fate as well as Busch's position in the final rundown.
"I wanted to win," said Keselowski. "We had a shot at it, and that's all you can ask as a driver."
Third-place finisher Busch noted the aggressive driving in the end, as he said, "Those guys didn’t care to give me any room. There’s only one corner you’ve got to make, and as soon as you make it through that corner and can keep everybody behind, it’s smooth sailing from there.”
Behind them was a scene that'd be more common at Talladega or Daytona took place. On the final lap, David Reutimann and David Ragan had grinding accidents that stemmed from contact with Boris Said.
Reutimann's car bounced off the wall hard before sliding on its roof while Ragan slammed into the fence head-on, ending the race for both Davids in rather violent fashion.
That accident triggered some post-race fireworks between Boris Said and Greg Biffle, a teammate of Ragan in the Roush-Fenway Racing stable. Biffle confronted Said, landing in a few punches before the two racers were separated by officials and their respective crew members.
Rounding out the top-10 finishers on Monday were Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Jeff Burton, and Jimmie Johnson.
Perhaps the most relieved racer of that group was Jeff Burton, who finally notched his first top-10 finish after 22 races in what has been an unforgettable season for the perennial Chase contender.
Placing outside the top-10 were Chase contenders Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Ryan Newman, who finished 11th-16th.
Heading into this Sunday's running of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Live at 1 PM EST on ESPN), here's a look at the top-12 points standings, with the drivers' team, manufacturer, and wins (if any) listed in parentheses:
- Kyle Busch (Gibbs/Toyota/3 wins)
- Carl Edwards (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick/Chevy/1 win)
- Kevin Harvick (Childress/Chevy/3 wins)
- Matt Kenseth (Roush-Fenway/Ford/2 wins)
- Kurt Busch (Penske/Dodge/1 win)
- Jeff Gordon (Hendrick/Chevy/2 wins)
- Ryan Newman (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/1 win)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick/Chevy)
- Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas/Chevy)
- Denny Hamlin (Gibbs/Toyota/1 win)
- Brad Keselowski (Penske/Dodge/2 wins)
[Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports]