Friday, October 15, 2021

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Busch survives late race madness for Watkins Glen win

One year ago, Kyle Busch saw victory at Watkins Glen slip from his hands after a last-lap-spin when he and Brad Keselowski made contact which effectively dropped Busch to a third-place finish.

That marked the second year in a row that the Las Vegas native had finished third after leading the most laps in the race.

Sunday, Busch changed that by winning the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen over a hard-charging Brad Keselowski who finished in the runner-up position for the third-consecutive year.

“This was ‘Rowdy’s Revenge’ here today,” Busch said after the race about being close in past years to picking up his second Watkins Glen win.

“Not to be greedy, but this could have been three in-a-row.”

Through the early laps of the race, it looked as though Marcos Ambrose was well on his way to earning his third-consective win at the New York road course after leading a race-high 51 laps.

An ill-time caution when Ambrose’s Richard Petty Motorsports teammate, Aric Almirola, crashed in the turn five tire barrier ended the Australians’s chances at victory.

The crash occurred during scheduled green-flag pit stops which shuffled the running order. Ambrose, who had yet to pit, was one of the only cars on the track that didn’t head into pit road which.

That moment was the moment that turned the race into Busch’s favor as he emerged with the lead.

“You couldn’t have called it any better,” Busch said about timing the pit stop and caution as Ambrose was left out. “Ambrose was on the straightway between [turns] six and seven and I was just coming out of [turn] six and [Dave Rogers, crew chief] called me to pit road and [the No.9 team] didn’t have time to relay it to Ambrose.

“It was such a late call that I had to be ready for it.”

Ambrose restarted the race 14th with just 29 laps to go and had difficulty moving through traffic before he crashed with Brian Vickers with less than ten laps to go.

“I could just feel that something had broken,” Ambrose said about the moments before he crashed. “This is not the way we wanted our day to finish.”

With Ambrose out, Busch’s biggest challenge came from the cars of Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr.

Both Keselowski and Truex Jr. made runs at Busch late, but neither were able to inch ahead of the No.18 Toyota as Busch picked up his second career Watkins Glen victory.

“Kyle’s car was really good for about five to ten laps and my car was really good after about five to ten laps,” Keselowski said. “If that last run was more than five laps, I think I could have got him.”

By finishing in the top-three, both Keselowski and Truex Jr. find themselves back inside the top-10 in the championship standings with four races until the Chase cutoff.

“We had a lot of speed in the short-run and almost got in the lead there after we put that last set of tires on,” Truex Jr. said about the late-race battle with Busch. “Just couldn’t quite run with him like that after all those restarts.”

Next up for the Sprint Cup Series is the Michigan International Speedway for the Pure Michigan 400 where Greg Biffle is the defending race-winner.

Cheez-It 355 at the Glen Unofficial Results 

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Carl Edwards
  5. Juan Pablo Montoya
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Kurt Busch
  10. AJ Allmendinger
  11. Jamie McMurray
  12. Casey Mears
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Ryan Newman
  15. Max Papis
  16. Greg Biffle
  17. Paul Menard
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  19. Denny Hamlin
  20. Danica Patrick
  21. David Ragan
  22. Boris Said
  23. Matt Kenseth
  24. Owen Kelly
  25. David Gilliland
  26. Jeff Burton
  27. Dave Blaney
  28. Landon Cassill
  29. Alex Kennedy
  30. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  31. Marcos Ambrose
  32. Brian Vickers
  33. David Stremme
  34. Kasey Kahne
  35. Ron Fellows
  36. Jeff Gordon
  37. Aric Almirola
  38. Michael McDowell
  39. Brian Keselowski
  40. Travis Kvapil
  41. Victor Gonzalez Jr.
  42. Tommy Drissi
  43. David Reuitmann

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