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: