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Marcos Ambrose! Yes, that first tour win...on a wild, angry day at Watkins Glen

  Marcos Ambrose: that first Sprint Cup tour win was inevitable, and it came in a dramatic day at Watkins Glen (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  (Updated/with video)

   By Mike Mulhern


   It was a brutal, bruising Monday, and not only did tempers flare – an angry Greg Biffle and Boris Said went after each other in the garage afterwards – but the wall hits were hard too, for Denny Hamlin, David Ragan and David Reutimann.
   And at the end it was Marcos Ambrose taking advantage of a late race mistake by day-long leader Kyle Busch to pull off his first Sprint Cup tour win, in a dramatic, and dry, race at Watkins Glen International.

   "I don't think racing gets any better than that on a road course, it was pretty awesome to watch, and cool to be part of," Brad Keselowski said. "It was a hellava race, a hellava race."
   Busch dominated, using a two-stop game plan in the scheduled 90-lapper to keep track position. And he had the lead on the green-white-checkered restart, after Paul Menard blew a tire and brought the caution, while Busch was holding Ambrose at bay, with a three-length lead.
   But Busch said he blew the first turn corner, opened the door, and lost the race.
   Both the bionic Keselowski and Ambrose and got by him, in almost a three-wide. Keselowski gave Ambrose room in the sandwich, and Ambrose beat him out of the 'bus stop' chicane at the end of the backstretch to take the lead. Keselowski was hoping for one final shot at Ambrose, but the Said-Ragan-Reutimann crash on the white flag lap brought out the caution, ending the race, which went to two laps of overtime.  

   It wasn't a typical Marcos Ambrose road race, at least not for Ambrose. He used his head and opportunities to win, rather than push and shove, as usual. The new Ambrose.
   "Dream come true…..No one realizes how much it takes to get into victory…and when you do make it, it's surreal," Ambrose said after Ford's first win here since 1996, in a Team Petty car.
   "Mrs. (Lynda) Petty isn't doing so well; this win's for her."
    Lynda Petty, Richard Petty's wife, has been fighting cancer.

    Denny Hamlin hit very hard into the first turn wall (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Ambrose, whose first full season the tour was 2009, is one of the sport's top road racers. Dale Jarrett called him the  best road racer in the series, and Carl Edwards said Ambrose could win a Formula 1 championship in good equipment.
   And Ambrose' win was big….but it wasn't the only big story of the day.
   Two bad crashes pointed out the need for safety improvements here.
   Reutimann got into a bad crash the last lap, in heavy traffic. "This was a pretty big hit, but that's part of the game. I'm thinking where I hit would be a good place for a Safer barrier," Reutimann said:  http://bit.ly/nwbv8X
    This track could also use soft walls down in turn one, where Hamlin had a very hard hit, when his rear brakes failed at high speed: http://bit.ly/nLVEtY
    Hamlin's crash here Monday was eerily similar to Jimmie Johnson's crash here at that same part of the track in 2000: http://bit.ly/eXOzyY

    The race, rain-delayed from Sunday, was one of the wildest ever at this legendary track. And it wasn't over even when it was over: Said and Biffle got into a fight. Biffle had run out of gas early in the day and was running two laps down much of race. And Biffle's crew says he's had issues with Said previously, which were exacerbated here. http://bit.ly/oVmenX
    Said was, well, listen:
   "I'm upset with Greg Biffle. He's the most unprofessional little scaredy-cat I've ever seen in my life. He won't even fight me like a man.
   "If somebody will give me his address, I go see him Wednesday at his house and show him what he really needs. He needs a freaking whipping.
   "And I'm going to give it to him.
   "He was flipping me off…totally unprofessional. (He was) two laps down…
   "He's a chump.
   "I went to talk with him, but he wouldn't even let me out of the car. He threw a few little baby punches, and then when I get out, he runs away and hides  behind some big guys.
    "But he won't hide from me long. I'll find him.
   "I won't settle it out on the track; it's not right to wreck cars.
   "But he'll show up at the track with a black eye one of these days."



A dazed Denny Hamlin (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    Said triggered the late-race crash with David Ragan, that led to Reutimann's wild flip. "I didn't want to wreck him, but I had to stay on the track, and he didn't give me any room," Said said.
    "And we both collided. That's the only thing I feel bad about."  

    Keselowski, though still noticeably nursing his broken foot, from a crash while testing 10 days ago at Road Atlanta for this event, was close to the surprising win, chasing Busch down the stretch, and having a great shot on the final restart.
   But Keselowski was in awe of how the entire race went, throughout the field.
   "That's about as good as racing gets," Keselowski said.
   And his foot?
   "It didn't get easier as the day went on, but when you've got a fast car, you can put a lot of that stuff out of mind," Keselowski said.
   Teammate Kurt Busch, who won Saturday's Nationwide race, didn't fare well Monday; he  blew a tire and crashed, apparently melting a tire sealing bead  because of excessive brake heat. Busch said the situation was similar to the situation that injured Keselowski at Road Atlanta.

   Kyle Busch, who drove a brilliant race, with good strategy to stay up front until the final lap: "We wanted to do a two-stop strategy, and it gave us track position all day, and gave us clean air all day. But we had to save fuel, and we gave up speed.
   "There is only one corner you have to make…and if you make it through there, it's smooth sailing," Kyle Busch said dejectedly.
   "But I didn't make it. I gave one away…gave another one away.
   "I got that far out (in turn one) on my own; but those guys weren't going to give me anything."
   Up till then Kyle Busch looked in command, able to hold Ambrose at bay.
   "The last eight or 10 laps Marcos would gain on me whenever I made a mistake….anytime you slip, you give up time," Kyle Busch said. "So instead of giving 101 percent, cut it back to 97 percent. And then he wouldn't gain on me.
   "The last thing I wanted to see was a caution."


   Boris Said: not happy with Greg Biffle...and the two got into wild fight in the NASCAR garage after the race (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

great entertainment well put

great entertainment well put in writing once more Mike. Thank you so much for your updates and now this article. I enjoy another good piece of writing from a great journalist.

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