Watkins Glen Recap
A wild ending took away what appeared to be certain victory from Kyle Busch on the last lap of today’s race at Watkins Glen International. Busch would get spun by the No. 2 car on the final lap to drop from first to a seventh-place finish, while a broken shock mount left Joey Logano back in 32nd and an engine failure relegated Denny Hamlin to 34th-place.
Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota on the outside pole and wasted no time in taking the lead right from the opening turn of the 2.45-mile road course. Busch would lead much of the first third of the race before pitting under caution on lap 28. Although various pit strategies would shuffle the leaders somewhat, Busch would battle inside the top-five for much of the day before regaining the lead with an incredible move on a lap 74 restart in which he would drive past both Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose to take the top spot. Busch would hold onto and actually extend the lead as the race neared its conclusion. Unfortunately with two laps to go the 47 car would blow its engine and in the process drop a lot of oil on the race track. Busch would hit that oil and his more than two-second lead was suddenly gone. As the white flag flew to signify the final lap, Keselowski would get into the rear of the No. 18 M&Ms Camry sending Busch spinning around the track and ending his hope of victory. It was a frustrating finish for Busch who was seeking a second win of the season and led a race-high 43 laps, but would have to settle for seventh.
Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in 14th and would report tight handling conditions through the exit of turns through the early going. However The Home Depot team would never really get an opportunity to work on the issue as Logano would report that something was wrong with the rear end of his No. 20 Camry just about a quarter of the way into the race. The problem turned out to be a broken rear shock mount and would force Logano to the garage for repairs. When he returned he would be 19 laps off the pace and had to settle for a disappointing 32nd-place finish.
It was a rough weekend for Denny Hamlin and his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota with an accident during the weekend’s first practice that forced the No. 11 team to bring the backup out of the hauler. He would manage to qualify in 23rd for the race and then spent much of the first half of today battling for a spot inside the top 15. An engine problem would bring his day to an early end however, when he had to bring his Camry down pit road on lap 58. Hamlin’s day would be over and he would be officially scored in 34th.
Marcos Ambrose picked up the win, with Brad Keselowski second, Jimmie Johnson. third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Sam Hornish rounded out the top five. There were four cautions for a total of 13 laps with 10 lead changes among five different drivers.
With just four races remaining before the field is set for The Chase, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return to Michigan next Sunday, August 19. Coverage of the race will be on ESPN beginning at 1 PM ET (pre-race show starts at Noon ET). You can also keep track of all the action every day by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.