Marcos Ambrose did exactly what everyone thought he would do today; win.
Watkins Glen, N. Y. – Road-racing maestro Marcos Ambrose made it look easy at Watkins Glen International as he cruised to victory in the Zippo 200 for the fourth time in five tries. Once he powered into the lead for the final time on the 57th lap, he couldn’t be denied the checkered flag.
The Zippo 200 marked the 20th appearance on the road course for NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. Ambrose drove the Stanley Ford fielded by Richard Petty Motorsports. In total, Ambrose led twice for 48 laps.
For me, it was more rewarding after spinning out early-on and then fighting our way back by passing a lot of cars.
In the early going, he did spin once but bounced back without hesitation, catching the lead pack as quick as he could.
“It was a fantastic day for RPM and with the King (Richard Petty) here,” Ambrose said. “This was our R&D team that put this car together for this one race, so it shows the strength of the RPM team.
“This was really one of our best win’s here. For me, it was more rewarding after spinning out early-on and then fighting our way back by passing a lot of cars. And we had an excellent pit strategy.”
Added crew chief Scott McDougall, “We decided to maximize our effort after learning we were going to run this race. Everybody drew in from the Nationwide, Cup and R&D teams. Everybody touched the car, and it is awesome to see the result.”
The late-race charge from Busch
Discussing the closing laps, Ambrose said, “I was taking chances and I wasn’t as fast as Kyle (Busch) at the end. I had to take chances through traffic to try and keep track position and keep the gap. It was pretty spectacular as Kyle was coming fast and I thought ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ Also, I should have looked at the stats as I thought it was an 80-lap race, not 82. When it came to the end, I really had to dig deep and find something to hold him off.”
Tried to make a move on somebody who don't give a crap and then he just turned into me and we spun us out
Kyle Busch, seeking his second win, gave it his all as the laps wound down, but came up 1.555 seconds short while wheeling the Monster Energy Toyota. At The Glen, Busch posted his sixth top-10 finish in five races and his 15th top-10 finish in 2014.
Not surprisingly Busch was stone-faced in defeat and gave only minimal answers to questions.
“Another second place,” he said succinctly. “(It was) just another race; nothing to it really. We didn't qualify as well as we needed to and tried to make a move on somebody who don't give a crap and then he just turned into me and we spun us out so that put us behind. We come back and got second."
Asked about his late-race charge, he added, “Just driving for all it's worth trying to give it everything it's got and we were faster and we had some speed in particular areas and maybe not some in others. But, we made the most of our day I guess considering how it could've been considering how last year went. I tried to chase down Marcos (Ambrose) and a few more laps maybe, but it wasn’t (meant to be).”
Joey Logano brought the Snap-on Ford home third while teammate and fast qualifier Brad Keselowski took fourth place in the Hertz Ford.
Said Logano, “Coming into the race, I thought the long runs would be where we shined, but it couldn’t have been more opposite when the race started. We were good on the short run, and I thought better than Marcos but the last run we just barely got beat out of the pits. We raced each other up through two and clean air was worth a ton. I was trying to hang with him and waiting for him to make a mistake, but it turns out he is pretty good and doesn’t make mistakes. I really want to win a road course. It is something special to say you won a road course.”
Keselowski’s victory chances ended on the 63rd lap when he went off track after tangling with Busch in the inner loop. Matt Kenseth finished fifth. Championship leader Chase Elliott brought it home sixth, followed by title rival Elliott Sadler. RCR filled out the rest of the top ten with Ty Dillon, Paul Menard, and Brian Scott.
Chase Elliott now holds a 12 point lead over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith. Ty Dillon and Elliott Sadler are tied for third and sit 13 points back of the top spot.
Five caution flags slowed the race for 14 laps and eleven different drivers took turns out front during the race.