WATKINS GLEN—Juan Pablo Montoya led 74 laps on his way to a dominating 4.735 second victory over Kurt Busch at The Glen. The action was hot and heavy all afternoon as third-placed Marcos Ambrose battled with Montoya on many occasions in the middle part of the race. A J Allmendinger brought his #43 Insignia HDTV Ford home in fourth place, while pole sitter Carl Edwards finished 5th. A very relieved Montoya said of his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup win: “It’s great. We’ve lost a lot of them and it’s been frustrating. I love this series. It’s about time to get another one. We (Crew Chief Brian Pattie) have a great relationship. We are both very competitive. It’s awesome.” Montoya’s Crew Chief Brian Pattie was almost in tears, saying: “It’s huge for us. I still want to win on an oval. Indy was my fault, hopefully this makes up for it.” Second-placed Kurt Busch was very satisfied to finish among such talented road racers, saying: “We had a hard fought battle. Juan raced smart. Maybe at the end I should have let Marcos battle with Juan and take each other out. It’s neat to race with world class guys. Juan just had a strong car.” Winner of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series ZIPPO 200, Ambrose said: “We lost the handle on it there at the end. We tried hard all day. It was fun in the middle part of the race. You could tell we weren’t running for the championship the way we battled I poured everything into in. We just lost the handle there at the end.” Carl Edwards (#99 Aflac Ford) led the field to the green flag but could not maintain that lead for the full lap. Jamie McMurray (#1 McDonald’s Chevrolet) dove down the inside at the ‘bus stop’ and took the lead. Juan Pablo Montoya (#42 Target Chevrolet) took the lead away from his teammate on lap 6 and pulled out a 4 second lead after 11 circuits of The Glen. Joey Logano (#20 Home Depot Toyota) lost a handful of places when he slid wide in turn one on lap 12. Scott Speed (#82 Red Bull Toyota) had to pull his car into the garage area after 12 laps for repairs to his transmission. Speed had been running in 8th position before trouble hit.
Jimmie Johnson headed to pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments after he began losing places on the track. Within one lap, he was passed by Robbie Gordon, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick. It turned out to be a punctured left rear tire.
Montoya claimed the victory by 4.735 seconds over Kurt Busch. Juan Pablo led 74 of the 90 laps. The Average speed of the race was 91.960mph, with 5 cautions for 13 laps. There were 10 lead changes among 5 drivers. Kevin Harvick now leads the championship with 3210 points, 185 points ahead of Jeff Gordon.
Ambrose wins ZIPPO 200, Edwards takes pole
WATKINS GLEN—Carl Edwards (#99 Aflac Ford, 124.432mph) will start Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen from pole position after borrowing a set up from his team mate Greg Biffle (#16 3M Ford). “I’ve got to thank my guys,” said a happy Edwards. “We went and asked Greg and his guys for help and they were kind enough to help us out,” he continued. Biffle had set fastest laps in both of Friday’s practice sessions and qualified 7th. Carl shouted into his radio after his qualifying run, “I don’t care if that holds up, that’s a hell of a way to qualify!”.
Marcos Ambrose won Saturday's ZIPPO 200 at Watkins Glen International by 2.835 seconds over Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. An ecstatic Ambrose commented in victory lane: “This is the most satisfying win I’ve ever had. It’s huge for us. It’s nice to get a win for my guys.” Second place finisher Joey Logano said this may have been the first time he was happy to finish second. “I’m glad we (Kevin Harvick) ran each other clean. I thanked him afterwards. We had a good car. That #47 (Ambrose) is the man. We had a bad set of tires on the second set. I’m happy with a second place at a road course.” Harvick commented, “I didn’t do a very good job today. I knocked the front fender in against the #60 (Carl Edwards) at the start running over the curb. It didn’t’ start good. Then I was speeding on pit road. My shoe string got stuck on the gas pedal. I had a lot of weird stuff happen today.
The average speed of the race was 93.526mph. The ZIPPO 200 had 3 lead changes among 3 drivers.
Fourth place finisher Brad Keselowski now leads the NASCAR Nationwide point standings with 3509 points, 327 ahead of Carl Edwards who finished 33rd today.
In Grand-Am action, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas scored a dominating victory in Saturday’s Crown Royal 200 at Watkins Glen International, tying the single-season GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory record with their seventh triumph of 2010.
Pruett beat Max Angelelli to the checkered flag by 2.722 seconds, averaging a Daytona Prototype record 120.679 mph in the two-hour race slowed only by a pair of late-race cautions. Pruett managed to hold the lead on both restarts, leading the final 60 of the 99 circuits on the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen short course. The victory extended Pruett and Rojas’ lead to 26 points over Ryan Dalziel with only two races remaining in the Daytona Prototype championship (302-276). Dalziel finished fourth in the No. 8 Corsa Car Care BMW/Riley started by Mike Forest. “Overall, the car was solid,” said Pruett after scoring his sixth Glen victory. ”We just seem to have a good setup for the Glen. The traffic was tough, and you could lose two seconds a lap, easily. We just tried to cut our way through traffic the best we could, run smart and run clean.”
The road course takes center stage
WATKINS GLEN—NASCAR’s annual visit to the road course at Watkins Glen International is known for its twists and turns, but this year’s race could prove to be a major turning point in the 2010 Sprint Cup season as well. The NASCAR Sprint Cup season spans 36 races from February through November, including a 10-race summer stretch known as the “Race to the Chase” which sets the field for the autumn title run. As race number six of that critical ten-race stretch, Sunday’s “Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen” will play a pivotal role in deciding the 12 drivers who make it into NASCAR’s “Chase for the Championship.” A full weekend of NASCAR action at WGI kicks off with practice sessions for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series Friday, Aug. 6 and qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 7. The Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series is set for Saturday at 2 p.m., while the Sprint Cup boys will take the green flag Sunday, Aug. 8, at 1 p.m. A complete Schedule of Events and detailed track information may be found at www.TheGlen.com. This will be the 25th Sprint Cup event at The Glen since the Cup Series began racing annually here in 1986, although the Grand National Series did visit sporadically in the 1950s and 60s. During the off-season, the track underwent numerous capital improvements, many of which were geared toward improving driver safety. Among the changes were the removal of gravel traps and grass, modification of the catch fence, installation of SAFER barriers, and the relocation of guard rails. The NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule consists primarily of oval-course racing, in which drivers circle the track in a continually counterclockwise rotation. Twice a year, at Sonoma in June and Watkins Glen in August, the competitors are challenged to race on twisting, turning road courses—although the similarities between Sonoma and Watkins Glen end there. “Watkins Glen is a lot faster and you can’t really run side-by-side up through the esses,” notes four-time WGI winner Jeff Gordon. “I don’t think you’ll see the same type of racing you saw at Sonoma. But you’ll see a great race.” Road courses require a different skills set for NASCAR drivers, including negotiating tricky left- and right-hand turns, constant shifting and braking, and frequent elevation changes. For that reason, some NASCAR teams will call on substitute drivers known as road-course ringers to pilot their cars at Watkins Glen this weekend. Among the road racing specialists entered in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race is Boris Said, expected to be in the cockpit of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. Said has a total of nine Cup starts at WGI with a best finish of third in 2005. Another road course ace, Scott Pruett, will be on standby for Jeff Gordon this weekend, as Gordon awaits the impending birth of his second child, due some time in August. Pruett scored four straight top-five Cup finishes here from 2002-2006. Participating in the Nationwide Series Zippo 200 on Saturday will be open-wheel racer Jacques Villeneuve. The former Formula One and Indy Car World Series champion is making his Watkins Glen debut in the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota for Braun Racing. Fans of NASCAR’s seven-time Most Popular Driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will be witnessing their driver’s 500th career NASCAR start at Watkins Glen on Sunday. Junior made his first NASCAR start in the Nationwide Series June 22, 1996, at Myrtle Beach Speedway and has competed in 115 NNS and 384 Sprint Cup events since then for a total of 499 races. In 10 Cup starts at The Glen, Earnhardt’s best run was a third-place showing in 2003. NASCAR enthusiasts will want to take advantage of Corning’s Race Fever festival Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Bridge Street, between the bridge and Pulteney Street. Now in its 25th year, the event is expected to feature autograph sessions with drivers Boris Said, Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland. In addition, three previous winners at The Glen from various racing series—Geoff Bodine, Ernie Irvan, and Steve Park—will sign autographs for event ticket holders in the Turn 10 Village at WGI Sunday at 9 a.m. Check www.TheGlen.com and www.DriverAppearances.com for up-to-date information on driver appearances and autograph sessions throughout week. Tony Stewart leads all drivers with five victories in 11 starts at The Glen and is the reigning race winner, taking the checkers in 2009 after leading 34 of 90 laps. Stewart has won four of the last six Cup races here and finished second in the other two. Jeff Gordon, on the other hand, tops Stewart in overall road course wins including both Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Gordon has nine total wins to Stewart’s seven and has the second-highest win total at Watkins Glen with four victories in 17 starts. Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin are the only multi-time winners at WGI heading into Sunday’s race, but it is driver Kevin Harvick who sits firmly atop the Sprint Cup standings with a 189-point lead. Harvick has nine starts at The Glen with a victory in 2006. The current Sprint Cup points leader predicts an exciting race in light of NASCAR’s double-file restart rule, which was instituted last summer at the request of many race fans. Rather than lining up nose-to-tail on restarts, the cars line up side-by-side, producing plenty of hard racing and body banging, particularly in the closing laps of a race. “There will definitely be bent doors and bumpers just because of how close the competition has become at the road courses with the double-file restarts,” said Harvick. Although this is the Cup Series’ second trip to The Glen under the double-file restart rule, it will be the first since the sanctioning body implemented a new procedure allowing for three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. The rule was designed to give race fans the greatest likelihood of seeing drivers battle it out to the finish under green-flag conditions.
Photos: Brandon Lawson and Craig S. Nelson/The Observer, REVIEW&EXPRESS