NNS: Kyle Busch not thrilled by early incident at the Glen with Ambrose

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Marcos Ambrose may have earned his fourth consecutive Nationwide Series win at Watkins Glen (2008-2010; did not compete in 2011-2013), but it was far from a Saturday cruise for him.

An early battle for third place ensued between Ambrose and Kyle Busch on Lap 6 of the 82-lap Zippo 200.

But as they headed for the bus stop chicane, the two made contact and spun off the track.

They were able to recover from their incident quickly and returned to the lead pack before the halfway mark. Eventually, Ambrose was able to hold off Busch in the final laps to take the victory.

Afterwards, a terse Busch indicated his annoyance with the Australian in post-race comments to ESPN.

“Another second place – our Monster Energy Camry was pretty good and probably good enough [to win], just never had the track position,” he began.

“We didn’t qualify as good as we needed to, and tried to make a move on somebody that don’t give a crap. And then he just turned into me and that put us behind. But we came back and got second. That’s it.”

Busch followed Ambrose into the pits during a caution at Lap 14; Ambrose took the subsequent restart in 16th, while Busch took it from 18th. Both drivers quickly made up positions before pitting again on Lap 20 for fuel only.

Then on Lap 26, a caution for Trevor Bayne and J.J. Yeley had Ambrose and Busch cycle to first and second when those ahead of them had to pit.

The two remained among the leaders for the rest of the race, and with five laps to go, Busch got underneath Joey Logano for second.

Ambrose’s lead started to evaporate, and by the final lap, Busch had brought it down to less than one second. But “Rowdy” ultimately ran out of time – much to Ambrose’s relief.

“I don’t know what nitrous button Kyle pressed there toward the end, but he came alive,” Ambrose said in Victory Lane. “Another lap and I’d be in real trouble.”

As for his perspective on the spin with Busch, Ambrose took a humorous approach as MRN’s Dustin Long reported:

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.