Kurt Busch, driving the #39 Penske Truck Rental Dodge, won the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International today, finishing 0.558 sec. ahead of Robby Gordon (#7 Harrah's Chevrolet). Finishing third was Jamie McMurray (#64 Top Flite XL Extreme Dodge), with Greg Biffle (#66 Cub Cadet Ford) fourth and John Andretti (#10 RVs.com/Camping World Ford) taking a season best fifth.
The race came down to a dramatic "Green-White-Checker" finish following a late-race caution. Busch had the lead, but was quite a bit slower than Gordon as they went though the "Inner Loop." Gordon made a very aggressive move on the last lap, flying up the inside and slamming side-to-side with Busch. Jamie McMurray thought he was going to get a gift as the two leaders slid off into the grass coming out of the right-left-left-right switchback. "My spotter told me they were wrecking, but there was so much smoke, I had to lift," said McMurray after the race. In a fabulous display of car control, both drivers were able to get their cars back on the track without losing any ground to their pursuers.
"Robby Gordon and I had a heck of a time out there," said Busch. "I don't know if that's what you call trying to pass somebody, but we saved it." Busch continued: "I got a great run though the esses. At the inner loop I wanted to get the car planted solidly in case there was contact from behind. I was surprised to find him on the inside! I got out in the marbles and just floored it. I knew he (Gordon) had gone through the grass there earlier, so I figured I'd do the same thing. You just focus on your instincts at that point."
From Gordon's perspective, he knew he had to seize that opportunity to get the win. "Kurt did a great job," said Gordon "I had him sized up where I wanted. I knew we were better than him in the inner loop and I just tried to get under him and move Kurt out of the way; He was just able to save it. These races are so competitive that sometimes you have to try something like that. It was fun racing!"
The Penske Truck Rental Dodges of pole sitter Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman pulled out a sizable lead during the opening stages of the race. Fourth fastest qualifier Ron Fellows had to start from the back of the field because his team had to make unauthorized repairs to a broken shifter after qualifying. He would make a dramatic charge though the field, passing 15 cars in the opening 5 laps. In the end though, Fellows would finish ninth.
Kurt Busch had the strongest car all afternoon, leading three times for 41 laps. Teammate Ryan Newman led after Busch made his first pit stop. He would run up front until his engine exploded on lap 30. His oil coated the racing line in the inner loop and caused #11 Paul Menard, #7 Robby Gordon and #20 Denny Hamlin to spin.
Fan favorite Boris Said had a mixed afternoon. Early in the race, he overshot the inner loop twice due to brake issues, incurring drive through penalties. He would soldier on to the end, earning a rewarding eighth place finish.
Greg Biffle also had an eventful afternoon. His team changed tires after qualifying, forcing him to start the race at the back. He was able to make it all the way up to the lead on laps 48 and 49. Contact with Scott Pruett in turn one caused him to lose ground to the leaders.
Following the first round of pit stops, Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick ran in the lead for 19 laps. He would eventually finish seventh and keep his lead in the standings with 3,778 points, 443 ahead of Carl Edwards who finished 27th today.
The elapsed time of the race was 2:16:45 for an average speed of 89.221 mph. There were 5 cautions for 10 laps and 8 lead changes among 7 drivers.
Come back tomorrow to see if Kurt Busch can sweep the NASCAR races at The Glen. So far he is three for three (two poles, one win). The green flag waves at 1:30pm for the AMD at The Glen NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.