The Last Road Course Ringer, Marcos Ambrose wins Watkins Glen 355

Aug 12, 2012; Watkins Glen, NY, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Marcos Ambrose (9) celebrates a win in victory circle following the Finger Lakes 335 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

The headline above is slightly misleading.

Marcos Ambrose has become quite competent at every type of NASCAR track. But his Racing Reference page now shows two Sprint Cup Series wins, both at Watkins Glen. And in an era where all 43 drivers are highly-specialized in road course racing, Ambrose has managed to stay above the rest of the field. He’s the absolute best at turning right in NASCAR.

That says a lot competing against the likes of Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Tony Stewart.

With that said, he received a bit of a gift win on Sunday afternoon as Bobby Labonte's engine expired in the closing laps, littering oil all the way around the 2.5-mile circuit, setting up perhaps the wildest finish of the season.

[Poll Question: Which finish was more exciting: Sunday at Watkins Glen or Martinsville in April?]

Kyle Busch had led the most laps, including the white flag lap, but stalled upon hitting Labonte's oil in turn 2. That gave Brad Keselowski a run at Busch, resulting in contact that sent the No. 18 into the retaining wall. Keselowski took the lead and Ambrose closed the distance. Keselowski developed a tire rub and Ambrose drag-raced him to the line, winning the Finger Lakes 355 by .571 of a second.

The big debate is whether or not NASCAR should have thrown a caution with so many drivers reporting oil on the track. NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition Robin Pimberton explained that track officials only heard reports of smoke — no fluid — coming from Labonte’s engine, but we know the real reason...

A caution would have ended the race and NASCAR's policy is to make every effort to finish under green. Throwing the caution would have denied fans the exciting finish they ultimately received, leading me to believe that they made the right call.

Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon will likely disagree but this is the show NASCAR feels obligated to provide their fans.

A note on adding a road course to the Chase for the Championship, as well as a complete finishing order can be found after the jump.

Another fantastic weekend of turning right has reignited the "road course to the Chase" debate. That's a discussion that will only continue next weekend as the Nationwide Series visits Montreal. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is traditionally the best road course in NASCAR and my personal vote for a playoff road course venue.

It could easily replace the underwhelming Kansas Chase race, providing excitement and flair to a coveted international media market.

It's a win from every conceivable angle.

And don't tell me that the Chase should represent the majority of NASCAR's calendar, not as long as Talladega holds a spot in the final 10 races.

Number of plate races in the regular season: Three

Number of road courses in the regular season: Two

Conclusion: A road course is just as representative of the regular season as a restrictor plate track.

Do you want to see a road course in the Chase? Do you think NASCAR made the right call by not tossing the yellow flag on the last lap? Answer these questions and leave feedback concerning Sunday's race in the comments section below.


Race Rewind: Watkins Glen (via TheOfficialNASCAR)

Victory Lane: Marcos Ambrose (via TheOfficialNASCAR)

Race Results

Fin Str Car Driver Team Lap Pts BPts Status TLd LLd
1 5 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 90 47 4 Running 2 8
2 4 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge 90 43 1 Running 3 37
3 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Cortez Silver Chevrolet 90 41 Running
4 8 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 90 40 Running
5 17 22 Sam Hornish Jr.(i) Shell Pennzoil Dodge 90 0 Running
6 15 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 90 38 Running
7 2 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 90 39 2 Running 3 43
8 24 17 Matt Kenseth Ford EcoBoost Ford 90 36 Running
9 13 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet 90 35 Running
10 9 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 90 34 Running
11 6 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet 90 33 Running
12 22 27 Paul Menard Menards/Rheem Chevrolet 90 32 Running
13 20 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet 90 31 Running
14 18 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford 90 31 1 Running 1 1
15 19 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 90 29 Running
16 30 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 90 28 Running
17 21 95 Scott Speed TWD Ford 90 27 Running
18 29 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 90 26 Running
19 7 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 90 25 Running
20 34 38 David Gilliland Mod Space Ford 90 24 Running
21 12 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 90 23 Running
22 32 34 David Ragan Scorpion Coatings/Al's Liners Ford 90 22 Running
23 35 83 Landon Cassill Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota 90 21 Running
24 42 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota 90 20 Running
25 25 32 Boris Said Ford 90 19 Running
26 39 33 Stephen Leicht # Chevrolet 90 18 Running
27 26 47 Bobby Labonte Miller Welders/Freightliner Toyota 90 17 Running
28 16 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet 89 16 Running
29 36 87 Joe Nemechek(i) Genny Light/AM/FM Energy Toyota 88 0 Running
30 28 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 84 14 Running
31 27 51 Kurt Busch Phoenix Construction Services Inc. Chevrolet 81 13 Running
32 14 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota 71 12 Running
33 1 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 63 12 1 Accident 1 1
34 23 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 57 10 Engine
35 41 49 Jason Leffler(i) America Israel Racing Toyota 42 0 Engine
36 31 36 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 41 8 Suspension
37 11 98 Michael McDowell TRAQM Ford 30 7 Rear Gear
38 38 26 Josh Wise # MDS Transport Ford 25 6 Electrical
39 10 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 24 5 Accident
40 37 10 JJ Yeley Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 15 4 Brakes
41 40 19 Chris Cook Plinker Tactical Toyota 5 3 Brakes
42 43 30 Patrick Long Inception Motorsports Toyota 2 2 Brakes
43 33 55 Brian Vickers Toyota 0 1 Engine
# = Rookie, Fin = Finish, Str = Start, Pts = Total Points, BPs = Lap Leader Bns Pts, TLd = Times Led, LLd = Laps Led. (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Average Speed: 98.145 MPH Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 14 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.571 Seconds
Lead Changes: 10 among 5 drivers Cautions: 4 for 13 laps Attendance: 90,000
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