Nothing Free in Last-Lap ‘Free-For-All’ at The Glen
Office Depot/Mobil 1 Driver Goes from Seventh to 27th in Final Lap
In his seven previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Tony Stewart had finished no worse than seventh – a run that includes four of his five career wins and two second-place finishes at the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course in upstate New York. And in Monday’s rain-postponed Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, an eighth straight top-10 finish seemed all but assured.
But when the checkered flag dropped, Stewart crossed the stripe in 27th, his No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala the last car on the lead lap. It was Stewart’s worst finish in 13 career Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen, and his third-worst finish in 26 career Sprint Cup starts on a road course.
What happened? A green-white-checkered finish set up a last-lap dash that saw the kind of beating and banging most fans associate with short-track races at Martinsville (Tenn.) and Bristol (Tenn.). Instead, plenty of fender rubbing was on hand at The Glen. It led to Stewart spinning in the outer loop, whereupon he was hit by another car as he went around, which pushed him into the inside wall. He managed to re-fire his racecar to finish the race, avoiding a dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish).
“What a free-for-all,” said Stewart as he climbed from his battered and beaten car inside the garage area.
No more words were needed. What appeared to be a surefire top-10 turned into a loss of 20 spots. As a result, Stewart dropped one spot to 10th in the championship standings. He now has 659 points, which puts him 93 points behind new series leader Kyle Busch while giving him a 25-point cushion over 11th-place Clint Bowyer.
His Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala, finished 16th. It was Newman’s fifth top-20 finish in 10 career Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen and his fifth straight top-20 finish this season.
With round 22 of 36 complete, Newman continues to lead the SHR duo in the championship point standings. He remained eighth and now has 686 points, 66 markers back of Busch and 52 points ahead of Bowyer.
Marcos Ambrose won the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen to score his first career Sprint Cup victory in 105 starts. The two-time Australian V8 Supercar champion is no stranger to Watkins Glen, however, as he scored back-to-back-to-back NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at The Glen in 2008, 2009 and 2010.