Here are four stories from Sunday’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen International. Marcos Ambrose headlines the group this week:
1. The Aussie wins an awesome finish
This was one of the best, if not the best, finish of the season. Marcos Ambrose, who was in third when the white flag flew, was first when the checkered flag waved. What happened on that last lap was anything short of amazing. Let’s set the stage: there was oil leaking over pretty much the entire track. Kyle Busch, who was leading on the final lap, spun out. That meant it was down to Ambrose and Brad Keselowski, who did a lot more than just turn right on this road course. They skidded and beat. They banged and drove through grass. In the end, the No. 9 beat the No. 2 by a few car lengths. It’s the second year in a row Ambrose has won this race. It may have been dangerous for the drivers, but it was a lot of fun to watch on television. That brings me to my second point…
2. Should NASCAR have thrown the caution?
Now that the dust has settled, this will be the debate for the next day or so. With all of that oil on the racetrack, should NASCAR have thrown the yellow flag? If it had, Busch would’ve been declared the winner, since he had already taken the white flag. But NASCAR decided to let it all play out. Ambrose and Keselowski said it was an outstanding finish. But Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. felt differently in their post-race interviews on ESPN. Sure, they chose their words wisely. But it wasn’t hard to see that they were more than a bit ticked off. For what it’s worth, Gordon finished 21st and Junior was 28th. Both spun out during the race; Gordon’s came on the wild last lap. Personally, I’m glad there was NO caution at the end. Just my two cents.
3. Top Ten shout-outs
The first one goes to Sam Hornish Jr., who finished fifth. This was just his sixth cup start of the year, and by far his best finish. Yes, he may have been helped by all the chaos on the final lap, but sometimes that’s just the way it plays out. The other shout-out goes to Regan Smith, who backed up last week’s 9th place finish at Pocono with another 9th on the road course.
4. New points leader
That would be Jimmie Johnson. He finished third on Sunday, but with Earnhardt’s misfortune, the No. 48 team leaped to the top of the standings. Earnhardt dropped to 4th, 17 points behind Johnson.
Next week: the second race of the year at Michigan International Speedway. Think Junior Nation is happy to be going back there?