Juan Pablo Montoya steals Ambrose’s thunder

Juan Pablo Montoya leads Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen

Juan Pablo Montoya leads Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen

Juan Pablo Montoya spoiled Marcos Ambrose’s attempts at winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race, taking victory in the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen today.

The former Formula One driver pulled away from Ambrose and Kurt Busch over the final 16 laps at Watkins Glen International and notched the second NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of his career.

Winless in 113 races since his first Cup victory at Sonoma in June 2007, Montoya added another success to the already magical year his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team owner has enjoyed. Jamie McMurray, who finished sixth at Watkins Glen, won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 this year, and Dario Franchitti added an Indianapolis 500 victory with Ganassi’s IndyCar organisation.

Busch passed Ambrose at the start/finish line on Lap 89 of 90 to steal second place from Ambrose, who came home third. AJ Allmendinger, fresh from a contract extension with Richard Petty Motorsports, ran fourth, followed by polesitter Carl Edwards, who collected his sixth straight top-10 finish.

Montoya, however, had the field covered when it counted, leading 74 laps and crossing the stripe 4.735 seconds ahead of Busch.

After a disappointing run at Pocono a week earlier — during which Montoya chastised crew chief Brian Pattie and the team when the No. 42 Chevrolet lost positions on a late pit stop — Montoya, Pattie and Ganassi met Saturday at Watkins Glen to make sure they were headed in the same direction.

“I think yesterday we had a good talk with Chip,” Montoya said.

“Last few weeks have been really frustrating for the whole team because we’ve been so close to victory. Seemed to keep slipping away.

“To come out here today and get the job done the way we did today, it was big. I feel more relieved than happy right now. It’s been a really hard road in a way. It’s been a lot of fun; it’s been frustrating.

“(Saturday) it was all about making sure everybody is on the same page, everybody has to do their job, and we came out today and everybody executed. It’s something Brian keeps saying, ‘Keep saving the car, keep saving the car, keep saving the car.’ And it paid off.”

Ambrose, who had won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and had realistic hopes for an unprecedented weekend double at The Glen, was Montoya’s equal until the final pit stop for both drivers under green on Lap 59.

“Something went wrong on the last pit stop,” lamented Ambrose, who had out-braked Montoya for the lead in Turn 1 on Lap 41 and held the top spot for five laps thereafter.

“We lost the handle on the race car — maybe a different set of tires, slightly different spring rate in the tyres.

“I had nothing for Montoya there towards the end. Congratulations to him—he drove a heck of a race. Just a lot of fun racing a guy with that much talent. He was swinging around the corners, jumping curbs, locking tires. It was just a really good battle, something I’ll take away from this weekend as a memory I’ll never forget.”

Montoya and Ambrose may have dominated the action at the front of the field, but what happened at the back tightened the race for the final spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Clint Bowyer broke a trailing-arm mount and spent three laps in the garage for repairs, a calamity that knocked him out of the top 12.

Bowyer finished 32nd and swapped positions in the standings with Mark Martin, who came home 19th. Now 12th, Martin is 10 points ahead of Bowyer with four races left before the Chase field is set Sept. 11 at Richmond.

Fin Car Driver laps
1 42 Juan Pablo Montoya 90
2 2 Kurt Busch 90
3 47 Marcos Ambrose 90
4 43 A J Allmendinger 90
5 99 Carl Edwards 90
6 1 Jamie McMurray 90
7 14 Tony Stewart 90
8 18 Kyle Busch 90
9 31 Jeff Burton 90
10 24 Jeff Gordon 90
11 29 Kevin Harvick 90
12 39 Ryan Newman 90
13 17 Matt Kenseth 90
14 77 Sam Hornish Jr. 90
15 56 Martin Truex Jr. 90
16 98 Paul Menard 90
17 9 Kasey Kahne 90
18 71 Andy Lally 90
19 5 Mark Martin 90
20 12 Brad Keselowski 90
21 26 Patrick Carpentier 90
22 13 Max Papis 90
23 00 David Reutimann 90
24 16 Greg Biffle 90
25 6 David Ragan 90
26 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 90
27 38 David Gilliland 90
28 48 Jimmie Johnson 90
29 19 Elliott Sadler 90
30 37 Travis Kvapil 90
31 34 Kevin Conway # 90
32 33 Clint Bowyer 89
33 20 Joey Logano 88
34 78 Regan Smith 84
35 09 Bobby Labonte 84
36 7 Robby Gordon 72
37 11 Denny Hamlin 70
38 83 Boris Said 65
39 87 Joe Nemechek 54
40 36 Ron Fellows 46
41 07 P J Jones 36
42 55 Michael McDowell 35
43 82 Scott Speed 28

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