By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
A lot of NASCAR fans, aren’t fans of road course races. However I believe that may be about to change after Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips At The Glen. In recent history road courses have actually ran like short tracks.
Drivers have bumped, and gouged their way through the field the last few outings at these tracks, and today was no different.
On top of that the race featured a classic duel between two great road racers, which just helped fuel the intense excitement all day long.
In the end it was Juan Pablo Montoya, who was able to shake off his recent bad voodoo, en route to his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
“To come out here today and get the job done the way we did today, it was big. I feel more relieved than happy right now.” Montoya said. “It’s been a really hard road in a way. It’s been a lot of fun; it’s been frustrating. To finally get that first win for Brian, I think it’s good. I think we can really focus on just getting the job done, it would be nice.”
Brian of course is Brian Pattie, the crew chief for Montoya, who has been taking a lot of heat from his driver lately after bad pit road calls at Indianapolis and Pocono. The two looked to be tearing apart, but this win mends a near-broken relationship.
“When you’re passionate about winning races at this level, the closer we got, the worse it got for frustration level.” Pattie said. “We’ve led a lot of laps, led a lot of races this year. So we’re there week in and week out. That’s what we try to do from 2008 on, build our organization and a team that can consistently run at this level.”
The thing that may be most remembered about this win is Montoya’s intense battle with Marcos Ambrose that took place over what seemed like 20 laps. It was very impressive to say the least.
The two battled fiercely all day long, but in the end it was the former Formula One driver from Columbia who was left standing at the end of the 12-round fight.
Montoya finished the day with 74 laps led of the 90 laps contested.
At the finish Kurt Busch was able to just edge by Marcos Ambrose for a second place finish, as Ambrose had a handling issues in the final laps. It looks like karma does indeed exist, as Kurt Busch finished second, while Jimmie Johnson who crashed him last week came home 28th.
“Yeah, I mean, points are points right now. Bonus points are the most important to take with you to the Chase.” Busch said.
“We feel comfortable in our points position. I know they do. Once the Chase starts, that’s when every point counts. That’s when you don’t need to take risky bump-draft moves or find yourself in a tight position that you don’t want to be in.”
“So you don’t want to wish bad upon anybody. For us, we had a solid day. I was real proud of my effort today and the guys’ effort. Just seemed like one of those type of feelings where, hey, everything is clicking, went in the zone. 90 laps felt like 40 laps for us today.”
For Marcos Ambrose it was a good weekend, despite falling short of victory lane in the Cup Series.
“It’s been a good weekend for me. I got to tell you doesn’t feel nice finishing third. I want to win so bad in the Cup Series, this was a really good chance for me.” Ambrose said. “We had a good racecar. Something went wrong in the last pit stop. We lost the handle on the racecar, maybe a different set of tires, slightly different spring rate in the tires. We lost the handle on it.”
A.J. Allmendinger had an incredible day and finished fourth, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five finishers at Watkins Glen.
As I already mentioned Jimmie Johnson had a crash and finished 28th, but as a whole it was a rough day for Hendrick Motorsports. Jeff Gordon was tops among all Hendrick cars with a 10th-place effort, but then Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 26th.