Kyle Busch wins at Watkins Glen
|By Diego Mejia||Sunday, August 10th 2008, 23:45 GMT|
Sprint Cup points leader Kyle Busch made history by becoming the first driver in NASCAR to win three road-course races in the same year by scoring his eighth victory of the season at Watkins Glen.
The 23-year-old had started the race from the pole but gave up the lead on the first lap at the Bus Stop when Dale Earnhardt Jr dived on the inside of him. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon also got by him but good strategy and a faultless drive helped him charge back to the lead and score the 16th win of the season counting all NASCAR series.
Since the first laps of the race his teammate Tony Stewart shadowed his every move and the pair even swapped positions right before their second and last pitstop just to allow 'Smoke' to grab an extra five points for leading the race to further help solidify his Chase seeding.
After their last stop and once everyone pitted for the last time, Busch easily controlled the race up front with superior pace, while Stewart had his mirrors filled with Australian Marcos Ambrose, who drove a clean race to finish right behind the JGR cars.
"This year has been phenomenal," said Busch, who had another perfect score by leading the most laps during the afternoon, besides setting the fastest lap of the race.
"I just can't thank Toyota enough. I can't thank the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing. It was fun to be able to race out there and I had a great time racing with my friend and teammate Tony Stewart there. I'm really going to miss seeing him at the end of the year and wish he would have stayed."
"I knew he was going to be tough to beat. I was racing against the same stuff so I knew it was going to be hard."
Busch probably put things harder than they looked as at no point during the race he seemed to have anything for his young teammate. Stewart came home in a solid second place, which boosts him up to seventh place in the standings with only four races left before the Chase starts.
Ambrose made a great comeback from the back of the grid in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, rounding up a great weekend after his maiden Nationwide series victory on Saturday. His team timed his strategy perfectly, making a short last stop for fuel as he had already taken on new tyres a few laps before under caution.
The move allowed him to jump several spots and put him in fifth place once everyone had already pitted. He later overtook Martin Truex and inherited third place from Ryan Newman, who spun at turn one before running into electrical issues which further hampered a promising run.
Ambrose put Stewart under pressure in the last part of the race following a red flag for a multi-car crash eight laps from the end when David Gilliland had contact with Michael McDowell and crashed against the tyre barrier on the last corner, being collected hard by Bobby Labonte and then Joe Nemechek.
"I thought yesterday was great, but when I wound up there on that red flag, I realized where I was," Ambrose said. "I was behind Tony and in front of all those other great drivers. We came up out of the truck so well yesterday, in practice we were too scared to change anything, and the car was flopping around a lot during the race.
"It had a lot of grip, it was just real tough to drive. So I just tried to stay clean as best I could there and pass cars cleanly, and just pick away at it. You know, I really had no idea where we were at until the last pit stops. We cycled through about sixth place, so it's just a great day all along."
Juan Pablo Montoya came home in a good fourth place almost hitting the rear bumper of Ambrose into the penultimate corner. The Colombian was happy to finally score a good finish although he could have been in a position to win the race had he not lost time on pit road during his two planned stops.
"We got a little messed up on the second pitstop," said Montoya, who had started the race 25th. "I'm not sure about what happened. The pitstop itself was OK, but the pit stall that we were in screwed us up a little bit and we lost some spots.
"When you have to go back out and pass five or six guys that you've already passed, you just kill your brakes and makes it hard to run good laps. Other than that, we had a really clean race."
Martin Truex Jr rounded up the top five and claimed his best ever finish on a road course, followed by Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.
The reigning Cup champion had to pit out of sequence while running at the front when he felt a tyre going down after going off at the exit of the Inner Loop. Despite that he was able to recover through strategy and pace, moving up to third in the championship as the top Hendrick driver.
Patrick Carpentier was the highest finishing rookie in 20th after a trouble day for the series' newcomers. The Canadian had contact early on in turn once while McDowell and Hornish were both involved in the 'Big One' of the day.
Following today's win Kyle Busch has now a 50-point gap to Carl Edwards in the standings once the Chase starts, thanks to his eight ten-point bonus for victories, relative to Edwards' three.
Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Kyle Busch Toyota 90 2. Tony Stewart Toyota 90 3. Marcos Ambrose Ford 90 4. Juan Montoya Dodge 90 5. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 90 6. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 90 7. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 90 8. Denny Hamlin Toyota 90 9. Carl Edwards Ford 90 10. Kurt Busch Dodge 90 11. AJ Allmendinger Toyota 90 12. Matt Kenseth Ford 90 13. Ron Fellows Chevrolet 90 14. Kasey Kahne Dodge 90 15. Elliott Sadler Dodge 90 16. Jamie McMurray Ford 90 17. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 90 18. Brian Vickers Toyota 90 19. Casey Mears Chevrolet 90 20. Patrick Carpentier Dodge 90 21. Greg Biffle Ford 90 22. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 90 23. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 90 24. Boris Said Dodge 90 25. Michael McDowell Toyota 90 26. Ryan Newman Dodge 90 27. Robby Gordon Dodge 90 28. Paul Menard Chevrolet 90 29. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 90 30. David Ragan Ford 90 31. Reed Sorenson Dodge 90 32. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 90 33. David Reutimann Toyota 89 34. Scott Riggs Chevrolet 89 35. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 89 36. Travis Kvapil Ford 89 37. PJ Jones Toyota 89 38. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 86 39. Michael Waltrip Toyota 83 40. David Gilliland Ford 81 41. Dave Blaney Toyota 81 42. Bobby Labonte Dodge 81 43. Max Papis Chevrolet 81