2011-08-18 / Sports

Ambrose Comes Through


By Gerald Hodges By Gerald Hodges WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Marcos Ambrose outraced Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch on a green-whitecheckered restart to win Monday’s rain- delayed Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen for his first Sprint Cup victory.

While the 34-year-old from Tasmania was racing toward the checkered flag, cars behind him were crashing into each other.

“Being in victory lane is a dream come true,” said Ambrose. “We win and I’m very, very happy, especially for Richard Petty.”

Paul Menard brought out the last caution after a left front tire blew on his No. 27.

On the restart, Kyle Busch went into the first turn too hard and had to lock up his brakes. This allowed Brad Keselowski and Ambrose to get by him. Ambrose was able to pass Keselowski just before the white flag was given for the last lap, while Busch remained third.

Right after the start of the last lap, Boris Said, driver of the No. 51, got into the rear of David Ragan’s No. 6, sending him across the track. David Reutimann was hit from behind by Ragan, and knocked into the outside wall. Reutimann took a hard lick, but was only shaken up.

The cars of Mark Martin and Tony Stewart were also caught up in the pile of cars.

“I was able to get the lead as we went into Turn 1 on the restart, but Marcos just had too much of a car for me,” said Keselowski, the second-place finisher.

Kyle Busch led the most laps, but his mistake with two-to-go probably cost him the race.

“I got into the first turn too fast on the restart,” said Busch, who finished third. “I messed up. I knew the race would come down to that one turn and I just messed up.”

Martin Truex, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Juan Montoya, A. J. Allmendinger, Jeff Burton, and Jimmie Johnson were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Carl Edwards finished 13th and lost the points lead to Kyle Busch.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 14th.

Denny Hamlin lost the brakes on his No. 11 Toyota and crashed hard into the outside wall, and finished 36th.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Hamlin. “When I tried to brake in the corner, I lost control of it.”

Kurt Busch winner of Saturday’s Nationwide race blew a tire on lap 42 of the 92- lap race and wound up 38th.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 22 of 36: 1. Kyle Busch- 752, 2. Edwards-751, 3. Johnson 746, 4. Harvick-738, 5. Kenseth-721, 6. Kurt Busch- 712, 7. J. Gordon-702, 8. Newman 686, 9. Earnhardt-671, 10. Stewart-659, 11. Bowyer- 633, 12. Hamlin-626

Busch Brothers dominate Nationwide race

Polesitter Kurt Busch won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen after subbing for his teammate, Brad Keselowski. Kurt and his brother, Kyle Busch, combined to lead every lap.

Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 48 laps, was out front on Lap 78 of the 82-lap race when he had to pit for fuel, giving the lead to Kurt.

“We were running hard together,” Kurt said. “It wasn’t to force him to run out of fuel. I wanted to race him as fair and square as you can, but we knew that they were short on fuel. I had the confidence in crew chief Todd Gordon here that we had no problem on fuel, so, of course, we were going to continue to apply pressure.”

The race ended in a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the event three laps past its scheduled distance of 82 laps at the 2.45-mile road course.

Jimmie Johnson finished second despite a pit-road penalty. Joey Logano was third, followed by Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Ron Fellows, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, and Elliott Sadler.

Top-10 leaders after 23 of 34: 1. Stenhouse-816, 2. Sorenson-806, 3. Sadler-792, 4. Almirola-746, 5. Allgaier- 736, 6. Leffler-713, 7. K. Wallace 686, 8. S. Wallace-636, 9. Scott-626, 10. Annett-623

Dale Jr. halfway through his career

In an interview last week with Steve Byrnes on SPEED, Dale Earnhardt said his racing career is only about half over.

“ I feel like I’m about halfway into my career,” he said. “I feel like I could go another 10 years. I think I really have to ask myself a lot of questions once I get to that age, whether I was being productive or wasting anyone’s time or whether I was still having fun. All those things pop up once you get older. But for the most part, I feel like I’m about halfway through.”

“I haven’t changed my life a whole lot in the last eight years, and I don’t want to change it that much. I have no interest in being married. I’d like to have kids one day, but that’s not something I’ve got planned out.”

Earnhardt went on to say that he doesn’t view himself as someone on a pedestal, or “hero-type” person.

“I feel pretty normal,” he continued. “And I feel like I have normal conversations with people. I don’t really see the celebrity buzz, because I’m on the other side of the fence, and don’t realize my level of fame.”

“I don’t categorize individuals like ‘This guy is famous. This guy is my hero.’ I feel like when people start asking me questions and want to do a sit-down interview, I get a little more guarded as the interview goes because I get nervous about being too open.”

“You want to have some privacy and you don’t want to be a blabbermouth either. I don’t feel that special. I just like going and driving my car and having fun racing.”

“For the most part, the car is the key factor. If a guy’s not running well, in most cases, it’s the car. The crew chiefs or other people might say it’s more the driver. But for the most part, the deciding factor is the equipment you’re driving and whether it will go around the corner as good as the other guy’s car.”

“The percentage of decent talented drivers is much larger than it used to be years ago, at least in my opinion. There’s more talented guys in the sport and guys that can win races than there’s ever been.”

Weekend racing: The Cup and truck teams are at the 2.0-Michigan International Speedway, while the Nationwide teams are at the 14- turn, 2.71-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track in Montreal, Canada.

Sat., Aug. 20, Camping World Trucks VFW 200, race 15 of 24, starting time: 12:30 p.m., TV: SPEED.

Sat., Aug. 20, Nationwide NAPA Auto Parts 200, race 24 of 34, starting time: 2:30 p.m.; TV: ESPN.

Sun., Aug. 21, Sprint Cup Michigan 400, race 23 of 36, starting time: 1 p.m.; TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: Who are the two Cup teammates of Joey Logano?

Last week’s question: Jimmie Johnson has one 2012 Cup win this season. Which track did it come at? His lone victory came in April at Talladega.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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