Allmendinger grabs first career win at Watkins Glen

August 10, 2014 No Comments

AJBrian Wiggins, Senior Writer 

Going into Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen International, both AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose both knew what was at stake.

Two of the drivers considered to be the best in the sport at road courses needed victories to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship come September. Sunday’s race was their best chance to grab and victory and put themselves into their first ever Chase.

Both drivers started inside the top-five, however it was the former “King of the Road” Jeff Gordon leading the field to the green flag.

Throughout the course of a relatively calm first-half of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, varying pit strategies began to take shape with both Allmendinger and Ambrose on opposite strategies.

As the drama of the race increased due to a rash of caution flags and questions whether the leaders could make it to the end, it became even more apparent how greatly Allmendinger and Ambrose wanted and needed to win.

Not giving the other an inch, the No.47 and No.9 cars battled around the seven-turn road course relentlessly over the closing stages. On the green-white-checkered restart to end the race, Ambrose took the lead from Allmendinger through the chicane. Allmendinger quickly took the lead back before the white flag flew.

Driving away up through the complex of corners leading onto the backstretch, Allmendinger went on to claim his first career Sprint Cup victory at Watkins Glen International.

“My god, I can’t believe we won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race,” an emotional Allmendinger said in victory lane. “I love these guys.”

Allmendinger led a race-high thirty laps en route to his first career win. Coincidentally, his first win was also the first Sprint Cup Series win for his JTG Daugherty team which had many near-misses when Ambrose piloted the No.47.

“I just wanted it so bad for them, for this team. They deserve it, they work so hard,” he continued. “I wasn’t going to let Marcos take that from me.

“I hope the fans loved that race here and at home, because it was fun in the race car.”

After having to fend of Kurt Busch over the course of the final lap as Allmendinger drove away, Ambrose was forced to settle for second.

“[Allmendinger] really deserved that win because I was giving it everything I had,” Ambrose said. “I was trying to rattle his cage and he withstood the pressure so congratulations to him.”

Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 featured a race-record eight cautions flags and two red flags throughout the course of the event.

The first red flag came out when Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle made contact off turn-five, sending Newman into the ARMCO barrier, back across the track and into Michael McDowell who also hit the barrier on the opposite side of the track, breaking the wall in the process.

The next race for the Sprint Cup Series is the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August, 17.

Cheez-It 355 at the Glen Unofficial Results 

1: AJ Allmendinger

2: Marcos Ambrose

3: Kurt Busch

4: Kyle Larson

5: Carl Edwards

6: Joey Logano

7: Kevin Harvick

8: Greg Biffle

9: Matt Kenseth

10: Brian Vickers

11: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

12: Kasey Kahne

13: Martin Truex Jr.

14: Jamie McMurray

15: Casey Mears

16: Austin Dillon

17: Justin Allgaier

18: Aric Almirola

19: David Ragan

20: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

21: Danica Patrick

22: David Gilliland

23: Reed Sorenson

24: Denny Hamlin

25: Boris Said

26: Nelson Piquet Jr.

27: Clint Bowyer

28: Jimmie Johnson

29: Landon Cassill

30: Joe Nemechek

31: Michael Annett

32: Paul Menard

33: Alex Kennedy

34: Jeff Gordon

35: Brad Keselowski

36: Alex Bowman

37: Regan Smith

38: Josh Wise

39: Ryan Truex

40: Kyle Busch

41: Ryan Newman

42: Michael McDowell

43: Cole Whitt

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