Marcos Ambrose had been strong all weekend in Canada. Grabbing the pole on Saturday and showing the dominant Toyota all afternoon everyone was hoping for a mistake to even get into Ambrose’s league–and the Australian delivered that mistake on the last lap in the last turn of Sunday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series road course event in Quebec giving Carl Edwards an impossible victory.
By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
MONTREAL — Swear out a warrant.
On second thought, break out the champagne.
Carl Edwards’ grand larceny Sunday at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve ended with a back flip and a celebration, not a jail term.
With a pass for the lead on the final corner of the final lap of the Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200, Edwards capitalized on the only mistake Marcos Ambrose made all day to win his first road-course race in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions.
Running on rain tires after a mandatory change for the entire field on Lap 61, Edwards hounded Ambrose for both laps of a green-white-checkered-flag finish and made the winning pass after Ambrose’s car got airborne over the curbing and lost momentum in the final turn of Lap 76.
In collecting his third Nationwide Series victory of the season and the 23rd of his career, Edwards gave Roush Fenway Racing its first road-course win in the series.
“The two laps, Andrew Ranger (who finished third) and I went side by side into Turn 1 (on Lap 75),” said Edwards who trimmed the series points lead of 10th-place finisher Kyle Busch from 248 to 192. “He pinched me off into the grass—which I probably would have done if I was him, too—and I just drove into his door, and we came off of Turn 2 banging doors.
“It was wild, and I thought the whole time Marcos was going to get away with this thing. I broke away from Andrew, and I just gave it everything I had on that last lap, and Marcos just made that one mistake through the curves at the end and gave me the chance to get by.”
Former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve ran fourth to the delight of partisan Quebecers in the packed grandstands. Brad Keselowski came home fifth and tightened his hold on third place in the points standings.
Ambrose, who has finished seventh, third and second in the series’ three races at the 2.7-mile course was despondent at not closing out Edwards after leading 60 laps.
“I just made a mistake at the end there and lost the race,” Ambrose said. “Any other lap, any other corner, I would have got it straight back. It just happened to be the last corner of the race. We had a drag race coming off the hairpin. Carl got position on me, and I had to try to make sure I (outbraked) him.
“I feel pretty devastated, because I let my boys down. We came here to win, and anything less than that was a disappointment.”
Ambrose was in the lead and in control when NASCAR called the eighth caution of the afternoon after a shower hit the racetrack as the cars were working Lap 59. Two laps later, NASCAR ordered the cars to pit road and red-flagged the race while crews mounted rain tires and installed wipers and lights.
After refiring the engines, the field took the green flag double-file on Lap 64, with Ambrose in the lead and Ranger beside him on the front row. Ambrose held the top spot through three more cautions before Edwards, who led three times for three laps, made his move in the final corner.