Thriller at the Glen

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:19 PM ET

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — It was a battle for the ages in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International on Sunday between the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota of Marcos Ambrose — two of the best stock car road racers on the planet.

From Lap 30 through to Lap 41, the two raced nose to tail, and door to door, before Ambrose finally got by him in Turn 1 of the Glen’s seven-turn, 4.03-kilometre track.

Over the next 40 or so laps, the pair took turns passing each other before Montoya took the lead for good and Ambrose faded to third behind Kurt Busch.

By the end of the 90-lap race, Montoya had a cushion of more than four seconds over Ambrose and Busch.

But that hardly diminished the show that Montoya, the former Formula One driver from Colombia, and Ambrose, the former Super Car champion from Australia, put on for the 85,000 or so fans who showed up at the Upper New York road course.

Even Busch, never one to hand out compliments easily, was impressed by the show Montoya and Ambrose were putting on in front of him for most of the race.

“To race with Montoya and Ambrose, those two guys come from a different world when it comes to road (course) racing, was special,” he said. “I had a blast.”

For Montoya, it was a victory that was a long time coming — his last and only visit to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Victory Lane was in July 2007. It was also one that had distressingly escaped him at least twice already this season.

First at Infineon Raceway in California where the team threw away a win by taking four tires instead of two and second at the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis where a similar late-race strategy cost him.

So Sunday was a bit of a make-up win for the former Indy 500 winner.

“We lost a lot of (races) and gave away a lot of them,” Montoya said. “It gets frustrating and everybody gets fighting and everything, but this Target team does an amazing job.”

The fighting he was referring to was between him and his crew chief Brian Pattie over the tire decisions at Infineon and Indy.

Montoya, however, said it’s all behind him. He said that winning the war on the track — he had with Ambrose — made everything better.

“It was awesome. We had a great car. We worked really hard all day,” he said. “When (Marcos) Ambrose passed me (on Lap 43), I was OK. I was really saving the brakes.

Played it smart

“The last two years here, I never had a shot at winning because I was always out of brakes. This time, played it really smart and when it was time to go, we had the car.”

Ambrose, rather than crying in his beer over the loss, said that it was as good a competition as he has had in racing career.

“Congratulations to Juan — he had a great race,” he said. “It was a lot of fun racing there in the middle part of the race. It was neck and neck. We’re both not running for a championship so there wasn’t much left out there. It was a real thrill to compete against a guy like that.”

Former Honda Toronto Indy winner A.J. Allmendinger had his second best NASCAR finish with a fourth place in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, with Carl Edwards finishing fifth — after starting on the pole — in he No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.


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