Make no mistake: Montoya wins
Sprint Cup victory his first in 113 races
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Juan Pablo Montoya finally had a race without a mistake, and he proved invincible.
The hard-driving Colombian erased 113 races of futility Sunday, winning a duel with Marcos Ambrose and the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International.
“It’s about time,” Montoya said after celebrating with his crew in Victory Lane. “We’ve lost a lot of them, gave away a lot of them. It gets frustrating, everybody fighting. There’s so many things I have to learn. I still make a lot of mistakes. It’s experience. We’ve just got to learn from it.”
Frustration mounted when crew chief Brian Pattie’s pit strategy backfired at the previous two races. A late four-tire call likely cost Montoya a win at the Brickyard 400, and he finished 16th a week ago at Pocono after starting second, another questionable pit call the culprit that led to harsh words over the radio.
A pre-race talk at Watkins Glen with team co-owner Chip Ganassi helped clear the air. Montoya went out, withstood repeated stalking and challenges from Ambrose and won going away.
Montoya led 74 of 90 laps and beat Kurt Busch to the line by nearly 5 seconds for his second career victory, the other coming on NASCAR’s other road course at Sonoma in 2007, 113 races ago. Montoya gave Earnhardt Ganassi racing its third victory of the season.
Ambrose was third, his third straight top-three finish at Watkins Glen, followed by AJ Allmendinger and pole-sitter Carl Edwards. Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top 10.
It was the first career victory for Pattie, who fought back tears after watching the No. 42 take the checkered flag.
“It’s huge,” Pattie said. “The Brickyard was my fault. Hope this makes up for it.”
Montoya was able to pull away on every restart, but each time Ambrose reeled him in. When the race restarted for the final time with 15 laps remaining, Kurt Busch passed Ambrose as Montoya took off again, pulling away as Busch kept Ambrose at bay.
Ambrose got past Busch in the first turn of Lap 77 and began the chase again as it became a two-car contest.
This time, Ambrose was unable to cut into the lead as Montoya steadily pulled away, increasing his lead from 1.7 seconds to 4.2 seconds in five laps.