Watkins Glen: JTG Racing, Ambrose race report

Marcos Ambrose captured his second career NASCAR victory in the Nationwide Series Zippo 200 with the No. 47 STP Octane Booster Toyota at Watkins Glen International Saturday afternoon. The Australian driver made a surprising move to pass leader...

Marcos Ambrose captured his second career NASCAR victory in the Nationwide Series Zippo 200 with the No. 47 STP Octane Booster Toyota at Watkins Glen International Saturday afternoon. The Australian driver made a surprising move to pass leader Kyle Busch with 19 laps to go in the chicane at the 2.45-mile road course and held on for his first victory this season in his only Nationwide start this year. The margin of victory was 1.082 seconds over Busch.

"I knew I had to get by him (Kyle Busch)," Ambrose said. "I knew if I waited until the last 10 laps he was going to do everything he could

to block me so I just tried to surprise him. I surprised us all because I got up in there pretty hard. Being in victory lane for the second time is just fantastic. I've got so many people to thank. We're just going to enjoy it. It's a special time in my life and I'm just really proud of all of my guys. This is just great."

Once Ambrose past Busch, he set sail putting almost four seconds between him and the rest of the field until the caution flag waved at Lap 65, which was the first of two double-file restarts he survived to repeat at The Glen.

"I've just got to thank Frankie Kerr (crew chief) and just all my guys," Ambrose said. "It was just an awesome day for us. This deal came together late. The Nationwide team has come back to a part-time schedule so it's a skeleton crew. They built a wonderful car for us that we could work on. I had a lot of help from the (Michael) Waltrip (Racing) guys and my Cup guys. It was just a perfect day. When you're racing against Kyle (Busch) and Carl (Edwards) and all of those guys and when you pass them to win you're really doing something special. Last year we won on fuel mileage and this one we earned. It's just an awesome feeling and it's just great to be back in victory lane."

His road to victory lane started with a second-place qualifying effort this morning after Kevin Harvick stole the pole in his final qualifying lap. When the green flag waved this afternoon for the 82-lap event, it did not take long for Ambrose to turn up the wick and post laps faster than the leader.

As he stayed on the heels of Harvick, his motor started running hot. Under caution at Lap 7, crew chief Frank Kerr told Ambrose to try to turn his motor off when he could to cool it down. Restarting 2nd on Lap 12, Ambrose took the lead and at the same time reported his brakes were making noise and he needed his fenders pulled out.

Kerr called Ambrose to pit road under green at Lap 20 for his JTG-Daugherty pit crew to change four tires, pull the fenders out and take off a piece of tape to help cool the engine down. Ambrose was back on track in 17th-place. As other drivers ahead of him pitted, he was in top-10 seven laps later.

"He was the fastest thing out there," Kerr said.

As the next caution occurred at Lap 34, Kerr was adamant about sticking with their strategy and was not pitting at that point.

"We had to stay out because we were not in our fuel window," Kerr said.

The No. 47 STP Octane Booster Toyota restarted seventh on Lap 37 and on the next lap Ambrose was back in the top-five with his motor still running hot. When the caution flag waved at Lap 43, Ambrose was third and headed to pit road for four tires, the crew to pull the fenders out and to take more tape off the grill. He went back to work in seventh-place on Lap 47. One lap later he was back to third-place with leader Kyle Busch just ahead. Ambrose passed the No. 6 entry of David Ragan for second-place on Lap 48.

"I told Ambrose to be patient because we had a long way to go," Kerr said.

With another caution at Lap 52, Kerr told Ambrose to make sure his car was in fourth gear and to shut the motor down to save fuel.

"We needed him to save what he could so we could make it to the end if there was a green-white-checkered flag scenario," Kerr said.

Ambrose continued his stride on Lap 55 and stayed close to Busch. Then on Lap 63 Ambrose made his move and dove to the outside of Busch up onto the curve and grass to make the surprise pass by Busch for the lead.

Putting a few seconds between him and Busch, a debris caution at Lap 65 changed that. Ambrose chose the inside for the restart four laps later and had no problem staying head of the class. Then on Lap 71, it was d0x00e9j0x00e0 vu as the caution flag waved again this time for Joey Logano hitting the tire barriers.

The race was back to green flag racing at Lap 76 as Ambrose chose the inside lane with the No. 18 of Kyle Busch on the outside of his No. 47 STP Octane Booster Toyota. Ambrose set the pace and went on to win the Zippo 200 for a second year in a row after leading laps 13-19 and 64-82. Ambrose also received the Sunoco Diamond Performance award and the Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race award for his efforts.

Kyle Busch finished second, Carl Edwards third, Kevin Harvick was fourth and Ron Fellows rounded out the top-five.

Now, Ambrose is primed for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory as he prepares for the Heluva Good! at The Glen on Monday.

-credit: jtgr

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Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ron Fellows , Marcos Ambrose , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch