WATKINS GLEN, NY — Story, and Audio by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Photos By Brad Ovens — The NASCAR Nationwide Series made their annual stop to the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York State for the Zippo 200.
Road course ace Marcos Ambrose and hometown hero Scott McDougall would take an early spin in the inner loop with Kyle Busch and turn it into the race winning strategy to secure the win in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. For Ambrose, it was his 4th Nationwide Series win at ‘The Glen’ to go with his 2 Sprint Cup Series victories. For McDougall, it was a hometown win for the part-time crew chief/full-time RPM R&D Team employee who originates from Minoa, NY just outside of Syracuse, NY.
Brad Keselowski with a lap of 71.018 seconds, 124.194 mph won the pole for the race and would sit alongside his teammate Joey Logano who turned in a lap of 71.097 seconds, 124.056 mph. They would lead the field to green in the Zippo 200 with Keselowski taking the early lead. He would lead until Lap 5 when Logano took over that position when Keselowski went too high exiting Turn 11.
Two top runners coming into this race tanlged in the inner loop as well on Lap 5. Kyle Busch dove in hard trying to outbreak Ambrose, the two made contact and spun into the inner loop without any further contact. The two would continue on with the only apparent damage being the Goodyear letters being rubbed off the Left Front tire on Busch’s Monster Energy #54.
Lap 11 would slow the field down once again as the 75 car of Kenny Habul had a RR tire explode and come apart all around the second half of the race course. Debris from the tire would litter the race course and one piece would crumple up the front end of the Trevor Bayne #6 Advocare Ford Mustang. Bayne would have to make several stops to repair the damage before continuing on.
Under yellow on Lap 13, Ambrose, Elliott Sadler and Busch would take that opportunity to pit for tires and would come out 16th, 17th and 18th for the restart. They would then come back in under green on lap 20 which allowed them to leap-frog the rest of the field that would have to make pit stops for both tires and fuel.
Laps 18 and 19 saw the pair of Penske cars hit pit road with Keselowski coming in on Lap 18 and Logano on 19. The next caution flag came at Lap 26 when the 23 car of Kevin O’Connell spun and hit the bright blue armco barrier. Cautions also came out at Lap 34 for JJ Yeley getting turned by Trevor Bayne’s Advocare #6 Mustang. Lap 42 would also see the yellow fall onto the field for debris on the racing surface.
Ambrose would make his last pit stop on Lap 49 with Logano coming in just one lap later. Logano would try and drag race off pit road and the blend area off pit road but Ambrose would squeak by and continue on in the lead.
“That was a key moment at the end of the race,” said Logano. “If I could have just had about three tenths of a second there coming off pit road it may have been different.”
Landon Cassill would crash in Turn 10 on Lap 58 with heavy front end damage that would end his day. On the restart, however, Ambrose pulled away to the lead and never looked back.
Ambrose ran into some trouble with about 8 laps to go as he made contact with a car that was several laps down. The contact dented the front end of his Stanley Ford but did not break the integrity of the body which would have certainly slowed Ambrose down on the fast course here at Watkins Glen. Ambrose spoke to the contact that was made in the interview attached below.
Kyle Busch came on very strong at the end of the race and ran Ambrose down within the last 5 laps of the race. As they approached the white flag, Busch had trimmed the lead to 0.6 seconds and could see a windshield full of the Stanley Ford Mustang #09. But Ambrose was not going to be denied on this beautiful day in the Finger Lakes.
Ambrose would score his 4th Watkins Glen victory in the Nationwide Series over Busch, Logano, Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. Positions 6-10 went to Chase Elliott, Elliott Sadler while RCR entries Ty Dillon, Paul Menard and Brian Scott rounded out the Top 10.
Marcos Ambrose’s winner’s press conference after the Zippo 200
A brief moment with Scott McDougall in Gatorade Victory Lane just prior to being whisked away to the Media Center
Ty Dillon came home 8th today in his 1st Watkins Glen start