In a post-race press conference at Watkins Glen International, 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Cheez-It 355 at The Glen winner Kyle Busch said he felt "relief" at winning this year after coming so close to doing so the last two years.
Busch ran second for much of the race behind Marcos Ambrose, but a necessary pit stop and later crash moved Ambrose back in the pack and then finally out of the race entirely, leaving Busch with the lead. In the last lap, reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski drove close to Busch, and Busch admitted later he was concerned that he'd be taken out by Keselowski. However, he was glad that Keselowski drove "clean" and Busch went on to take the checkered flag.
Busch's comments came in context of the last two NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Watkins Glen where he led for much of the race, particularly last year when he was leading then got spun around in an oil slick and Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski went on to duel it out for the win in one of the most exciting finishes of the season, if not in NASCAR history in the opinion of many observers.
According to WGI, Busch admitted his misfortunes from the last two years were on his mind, but he simplified his approach as the race drew to a close: “It was just run as hard as you can; try not to lose your car,” said Busch. “It was fun and (I’m) glad it worked out the way it did.”
Polesitter and two time (2011; 2012) race winner Marcos Ambrose led a race-high 51 laps before a crash with six laps remaining ended his day, dashing his chances for a third-consecutive victory celebration at The Glen.
Sunday’s win is Busch’s second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Watkins Glen International and 27th career win in the series. It marks his eighth top-10 finish at Watkins Glen International. The win gives the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota the fifth place spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings, an improvement of one place.
Busch’s win despite seven cautions in the race comes after a seventh place finish last year and a third-place showing at the historic road course in 2011.
Just four races remain until the field is set for the 10-race Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup. Jimmie Johnson, who finished eighth Sunday, now holds a 75-point advantage over second place Clint Bowyer in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Johnson’s finish today clinches at least a Wild Card spot in the Chase for the five-time series champion, according to WGI.
CONNIE ANN KIRK is the author of several books and is currently working on a new book with an Irish historic racer.