Watkins Glen: JTG/Ambrose race report

AMBROSE WINS AT THE GLEN!! WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Marcos Ambrose came to the U.S. to do one thing: Win NASCAR races. On Saturday that dream became a reality. The gregarious driver from Tasmania won the Zippo 200 at Watkins ...

AMBROSE WINS AT THE GLEN!!

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Marcos Ambrose came to the U.S. to do one thing: Win NASCAR races.

On Saturday that dream became a reality.

The gregarious driver from Tasmania won the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, and in the process put one of racing's storied companies, STP, back in Victory Lane.

"When I came to America, I was prepared to come over here for two years without a ride and forge my way into the sport," Ambrose said after leading the final four laps for his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win in his career. "I knew the road courses this year were my best chances to win. We finished second in Mexico and third in Montreal. I feel like I've been trying so hard to win I've been tripping over myself. This is a great day for everyone at JTG Daugherty Racing. It's a huge load off my shoulders."

Ambrose started 12th in the STP Ford Fusion, but he quickly and smartly worked his way through the field. The critical moment, however, came on the 48th of 82 laps during a caution period. Many of the lead-lap cars made a pit stop for fuel, but crew chief Gary Cogswell kept Ambrose on the track.

"I started to second-guess myself, but I knew it was the right thing to do," he said. "The guys who stopped, they still needed to stop one more time. If we stayed out, we could make it with one more stop. By staying out, we gained a lot of track position."

Cogswell actually took the calculated risk a step further. Four of the five cars that stayed out stopped on Lap 52; Ambrose stayed on the track until Lap 53. That one lap proved critical. Ambrose was running third when the first two cars ran out of gas in the final four laps. The STP Ford was good enough to challenge for the victory then, but Cogswell wanted Ambrose to save every drop of fuel.

Cogswell knew best. "We didn't luck out," Ambrose said. "We deserved this win. This is a big relief for everyone in this room. I drug my family halfway around the world to do this. Today, it's worthwhile. Gary turned my program around. He came to us after six races and we've been really good since. We're a team that's been moving forward, but we needed this win to justify it."

The victory continued STP's long tradition of excellence in NASCAR. The popular oil and gasoline treatment company, which is part of the Clorox family, was on board most of Richard Petty's 200 career wins and seven NASCAR championships.

Car owners Tad and Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty reveled in the celebration. For the Geschickters, it was their first victory as car owners since 1996. For Daugherty, it was his first trip to Victory Lane since 1989.

"It's been 12 years since we've won and we've finished second 12 times in that time," Tad Geschickter said. "Through it all, Clorox and Kingsford have stuck with us the whole way. Now we've given them some momentum to keep it going

Said Jodi Geschickter: "We were at the national sales meeting for Clorox a couple weeks ago and they were so happy to be behind this program. When we left, Marcos said we needed to win for these people, and he was true to his words."

"You don't fall into wins," Daugherty said. "They've worked hard for years for this moment. They've built this team on solid fundamentals. That's why I wanted to be involved with people who have such standards."

One of the first telephone calls Ambrose got in Victory Lane came from his father back in Tasmania. He watched the race on satellite television. "I'm sure I'm going to have to explain this 25,000 times to everyone back home," Ambrose said. "Every time I go home, people kept asking me when I was going to win. Now I can tell them I'm a winner."

-credit: jtgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Richard Petty , Marcos Ambrose
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing