Juan Pablo Montoya steals Ambrose’s thunder
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.
|1||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||90|
|4||43||A J Allmendinger||90|
|14||77||Sam Hornish Jr.||90|
|15||56||Martin Truex Jr.||90|
|26||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||90|
|31||34||Kevin Conway #||90|
|41||07||P J Jones||36|