WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – It was déjà vu all over again for Kyle Busch at Watkins Glen Int’l on Sunday, but this time he made sure the end result was considerably different than the last two seasons.
Busch held off Brad Keselowski during a two-lap dash to the checkers on Sunday to score his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the year and the second of his career at Watkins Glen during the Cheez-It 355, earning a great deal of redemption in the process.
Marcos Ambrose was the man to beat throughout most of Sunday’s race at the 2.2-mile road course. He started from the pole and immediately grabbed the lead, going unchallenged during the first half of the 90-lap race.
The turning point came on lap 60 when the caution flag waved for a crash involving Aric Almirola. The caution period came during the middle of a cycle of green flag pit stops and Ambrose had yet to pit. The driver of the No. 9 Ford was forced to come down pit road for fuel and tires. That gave the lead to Busch, who had already made his final stop of the day.
Busch restarted with the lead and briefly held off a charge from Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway winner Martin Truex Jr. Truex quickly fell into a battle with Keselowski, who overtook Truex for the second position on lap 65.
The top three continued to race in that order until a caution flag on lap 78 for debris from the damaged machine of Travis Kvapil.
The field returned to racing on lap 81, but they didn’t get very far. Contact between Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth caused a melee in the esses that also involved Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Ragan, Jeff Burton and Alex Kennedy.
After clean-up the field returned to racing, but another problem in the esses in nearly the exact same place stopped the field again. This time Ambrose, stuck back in traffic with an ill-handling car, spun in traffic and took Brian Vickers with him.
“Just really disappointed for my Stanley team,” said Ambrose, who failed in his attempt to win his third-straight race at Watkins Glen. “Something was wrong with the car there. I couldn’t get going. I could feel it on the roll around (caution) laps that something had broken in the car.”