Watkins Glen: Marcos Ambrose race report

AMBROSE CLAIMS SECOND NASCAR WIN AT WATKINS GLEN Australian racing driver Marcos Ambrose has claimed his second NASCAR win by defending his Zippo 200 crown at the Watkins Glen International road course in New York state today. Ambrose, who ...


Australian racing driver Marcos Ambrose has claimed his second NASCAR win by defending his Zippo 200 crown at the Watkins Glen International road course in New York state today.

Ambrose, who claimed his first NASCAR victory in the same race last season, dominated today's Nationwide Series event to take the chequered flag ahead of Americans Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.

Ambrose started from second position in today's race closely following polesitter Kevin Harvick in the early stages.

On lap 13 Ambrose made his move to take first place from Harvick, holding the lead until making his first pit stop for fuel and tyres on lap 19.

Ambrose was clearly the pacesetter throughout today's 82-lap race aboard the #47 STP-backed entry of JTG Daugherty Racing, moving up the order and making his final pit stop just past half-race distance on lap 45.

At the restart after that final visit to pit lane Ambrose was in fifth place, but quickly moved forwards and in only a handful of laps was on the back on race leader, NASCAR bad boy and current Nationwide Series points leader Kyle Busch.

After a hard-fought battle, Ambrose made his race winning move on lap 64 when he passed Busch down the inside entering the 'Bus Stop' section of the Watkins Glen circuit, resulting in Ambrose taking the lead that he would never relinquish.

For his part, Busch was surprised by the late-braking move, shortcutting the Bus Stop section as a result.

Despite several late-race restarts, from that point on Ambrose was never headed to take his second NASCAR career win since leaving V8 Supercar racing in Australia to forge a career in NASCAR in 2006.

This season Ambrose has made it to the top level of NASCAR, racing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series for the first time this season.

Ambrose was making his first start in the Nationwide Series today to defend his Zippo 200 crown with JTG Daugherty Racing. He led the most laps of any driver with 26 laps led, also winning the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award and Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award.

Tomorrow, Ambrose will look to grab his third NASCAR victory and first in the top-flight Sprint Cup Series when he starts from fourth place in the Heluva Good! at The Glen.

Earlier in the day, Ambrose set the fastest time in both the Sprint Cup practice sessions held at Watkins Glen today aboard his regular #47 JTG Daugherty Racing entry.

Ambrose currently lies 18th in the Sprint Cup Series standings and is the highest ranked first year driver in the ultra-competitive championship, with five top 10 finishes so far this season.

MARCOS AMBROSE -- Victory Lane Interview:

"Here we are in Victory Lane. It's just awesome. I've got so many people to thank.

"Tad and Jodi Gescheckter, who plucked me out of nowhere to give me a chance here in NASCAR, and here I am.

"Big Brad Daugherty, I've got to say hi to me or else he'll punish me beyond words.

"It's just an awesome day for us. We're all really proud. STP - two wins in two years. It's just awesome.

"I had to surprise him (Kyle Busch). I didn't have the straight line speed to really attack him. If I had waited for the last 10 laps there is no way he would have let me past so I just tried to surprise him and I surprised myself!

"It was an all-in move and I knew I had to do it then because the element of surprise was there and that's what got the win for us.

I was worried (at the restarts). You know, it's Kyle Busch, and he doesn't give you an inch and I had Carl (Edwards) behind me too and I bumped into him earlier at Turn 1, so I had my hands full.

"But those guys are fair. They race really hard but it's just awesome.

"Awesome to be alongside them, awesome to compete against them and awesome to beat them."

MARCOS AMBROSE -- Media Conference Opening Remarks:

"All these guys here ... I just have to thank them. Just an awesome day for us.

This deal came together late. The Nationwide team has come back to a part tome schedule so it's on skeleton crew.

"They built a wonderful car for us to work on. We tuned on it here from the moment we got to the track and the cooperation was good. A lot of Waltrip (Michael Waltrip Racing) guys, my Cup guys, helped, so it was just a perfect day.

"Racing against Kyle and Carl and all those guys. When you pass them to win you're really doing something special and it's really been a great day for us.

"Last year we won on fuel mileage, this one we eared. It's just an awesome feeling and it's just great to be back in Victory Lane."

MARCOS AMBROSE -- Media Conference Questions:

QUESTION: Could you talk about the winner pass and is that a place where you thought you had to make it after following Kyle for about eight laps?

"Yeah, I just didn't have to top end speed to make a classic pass on him. I knew I was going to have to bomb him somewhere to try and get the win. He wasn't going to make a mistake on his own, I was going to have to force one on him.

"It's Kyle Busch we're talking about and he's going to race you hard, so I just tried to throw the element of surprise in. I came from a fair way back on him, maybe a car length and a half on him, and just bombed it in there and I knew that it was a high-risk move, but it was one that was needed to try and win the race.

"We're not here to come second, we're here to win, and I had that mindset all weekend. Even when we had our issues during practice and things weren't quite going our way, you've just got to have that fortitude that we came here to win. We want to win and we're going to do everything we can to do it.

"When you're passing Kyle Busch you've got to do something special, because he doesn't want you to pass."

QUESTION: Kyle wasn't happy with that move. Should he not be happy? And if you knew Kyle wasn't happy, how concerned were you about those restarts with him next to you?

"Well, I never touched him. I've seen Kyle knock guys out for the win so I'm not sure. You're racing against one of the best in the business and the element of surprise was my tack. He clearly reacted late to me coming down the inside there. I don't know what he's got to complain about. I passed him without touching him and we won the race.

"I actually got the spotter to check with his - not that my spotter was going to give me a straight answer anyway! - and he said 'no, it's no problem' so I just sailed off into Turn 1 (at the restarts) to try and win the race.

"It doesn't matter if he was mad at me anyway. I couldn't have done anything different to what I did. I just tried to get the jump off the line and again, just mix it up there on when I'd decide to actually get going for the restarts and it worked out great both times."

QUESTION: This was your first Nationwide race for the season. How did you adjust to the car, obviously you're now used to the heavier Cup cars but you took to it pretty quickly?

"The lack of horsepower was interesting. The difference in the Cup motor versus the Nationwide motor. You've got to change the way you set the car up and it really changes the way you drive the circuit.

"I think today's race was a great race. I think there were a lot of competitive cars. It doesn't take much. I've had a couple of years in the Nationwide Series already so I just remembered back to what I used to do and tried to apply it well."

QUESTION: Can you compare this win to last year's win? How do you feel emotionally about it?

"Last year's win was more about relief. Finally winning a race in North America ad in the NASCAR series, it was just a huge burden off of me.

"This year it's more just joy. I'm just so happy for everyone here at this table and for all my Cup guys, because they shared this victory. This wasn't a victory was independent of my Cup effort. My guys just volunteered themselves to try and help me this weekend, to try and help this Nationwide car be as fast as it could and so it just feels just great to help celebrate the win with all my new friends on that deal as well as my old friends form the Nationwide team from last year.

"A couple of guys were in Victory Lane with us last year, they were in Victory Lane with us again today and that' just very special to share that with them.

"This one was just joy, just really happy to get it to Victory Lane. We earned it. We had to pass cars to win it and it just feels great."

QUESTION: Is there anything you can take from today and use for tomorrow's Cup race?

"No, I wouldn't say there is really anything I could take from today and use tomorrow. Maybe just the way the tyre wears, what you expect to feel from the tyre as it fades, because we didn't do more than five or six laps in the Cup car in one run.

:So I'd say no, we will just have a couple of beers tonight, enjoy the win, and reset for tomorrow."

QUESTION: What do you think about taking out the double and winning again tomorrow?

"Well I'm just happy to win one! I'm not greedy! I'm happy to win two, but I'm happy with one right now."

QUESTION: Marcos, your transition to NASCAR, are you at the point now where it makes no difference whether you are at a short track, or a 1.5-mile speedway, or a road course, in this point in your career?

"Well right now obviously road racing, we're a contender every track we go to on a road course But I feel that as i grow into the Sprint Cup series and with the help of Frank and everybody here, we're more competitive than ever on every type of oval, whether it be Superspeedway, short track or intermediate.

"I feel really good on all of them. I feel we are going to hit on some special stuff here, getting ready for 2010. I feel for me, I'm all about 2010. I know we're 18th in points and we're only a couple of hundred out of 12th, but realistically I want to be ready for 2010 and have a serious shot at trying to make the Chase (Top 12).

"We can contend any week. Last week we were crashed out in sixth or seventh place with 20 laps to go at Pocono. We finished top 10 at Daytona and Talladega. We've had top 10s at Bristol. So there is no signle track that I'm worried about anymore.

"I just need to be faster on the ovals. There is still this 'why can I win on a road course but I'm battle to make top 10 on the ovals and I think that just over time I'll either make it, or I'll go home. It's going to be a pretty simple choice."

QUESTION: I've heard you are running Montreal at the end of the month. Is it going to be the same team, same people, same car? Because you've been dominating for the first two events up there but unfortunately stuff has happened.

"We intend to be in Montreal. I would have taken this car but I think I just crashed it doing doughnuts on the front stretch. So we'll see how it shapes up. It might need a new rear clip on it.

"I'm really excited that we've got a chance to win it there. I feel like I've tripped over myself two years in a row there and given the win away.

"When I go back up there I want to make it stick and try and do the double (ED: Nationwide road course double).

"The big thing about our team is that we make the most of what we've got. Not every deal, not every year is perfect, but we just do the best we can with what we've been given and we are thankful for what we have been given and we're thankful for all the support we've got from STP and the Clorox Company and we're pleased to win it for them."

FRANK KERR - #47 JTG Daugherty Racing Crew Chief:

"This deal kind of came together late and this car was being built at the JTGD shop and we've just been so busy on the cup side that we haven't had much time to get down there

"We came to the shop on Tuesday and we worked on it Tuesday and Wednesday and we unloaded here not very good.

"We just kept working on it and changing things and with the help form this guy (Ambrose) telling you what it's doing it makes my job a lot easier.

"We just made some really good adjustments at the end of yesterday and we knew we had something. I'm just proud of everybody pitching in from the Cup car, the Nationwide team and I've got to thank Tad and Jodi and Brad. They've been in this business a long time, especially the Nationwide Series, and I'm just so happy to win a race for them.

"I used to work here (for JTGD) and we've had some poles and seconds and stuff and now we're in Victory Lane together.

"From the original JTGD Nationwide team there were three people here. That's pretty much all that's left I guess. All the rest of the guys are from the Cup side, whenever they weren't working on the Cup car they came over and helped on this and I've got to through my hat out to them because we changed so much stuff yesterday and we pretty much built the car here in a way, totally redid it, changed things and going back and forth.

"Our main goal was the Cup car but we came here to win this Nationwide race and, you know, we did it, and I'm very proud of that."

JODI GESCHICKTER -- JTG Daugherty Racing Co-Owner:

"We always look forward to Watkins Glen. We always look forward to road courses. But increasingly, we've just been excited to go to the track with Marcos Ambrose every week. It's always an adventure, right? We all know Marcos! We love him.

"Just to be up here again, we're thrilled to be here. We're thrilled to be a part of this sport and we celebrate this victory with Marcos and his whole family and our team. I wish the guys were all in here (ED: in the media conference) with us now. They're all packing up things, getting ready to go. They've all really worked hard this week.

TAD GESCHICKTER -- JTG Daugherty Racing Co-Owner:

"Jodi really said it all. It meant a lot having Sonja (Ambrose) and the girls (daughters Tabitha and Adelaide) here this year. I hope it's the first of many.

"It's been hard for the Nationwide guys who've had to go down to a skeleton crew and not run every race. I can't say enough for the two or three guys that started from scratch with this car and built it from scratch. It just takes a lot of heart - they're racers.

"We'll run Montreal for sure. We have a few deals brewing for the back half of the season where we hope to run hard towards the very tail end (of the schedule). But quite honestly, sponsorship has been quite hard to come by and we can't run this thing without sponsors. So we're thankful for STP and all our sponsors."

BRAD DAUGHERTY - JTG Daugherty Racing Co-Owner:

"The toughest thing to do as we came back to this race was that the expectations were very high.

"Marcos is one of the top road racers in the world and he's quickly becoming one of the top race drivers in the country. But the expectations were high. When you come back and fulfil and ... take care of those expectations it just shows what time of race team we have, what type of people and personnel we have around us.

"It's truly a great day. Marcos drove hit butt off. Frankie gave him a great hot rod. Tad and Jodi and I had to sit back and watch.

"I got to talk to Richard Petty a bit and he said 'you guys are going to be pretty good both today and Sunday' and I said that we fell really good about what we've got. It meant a lot to me. Richard Petty was one of my heroes growing up as a kid. To see that car coming across with the chequered flag and the STP logo, it gives me a little bit of a flashback and it's good stuff."

-credit: ma/bam

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Richard Petty , Marcos Ambrose , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch
Teams JTG Daugherty Racing