Ok, last years Nationwide race at Watkins Glen saw Marcos score his first victory in the States...but he was incredibly lucky since the guys he was racing ran out of fuel. He led just a handful of laps all day, one around the time of his final pitstop and then at the end. This wasn't quite the drive one had expected of the Aussie given his dominance in the rain of Montreal the week before. However, he hadn't gotten any wins by being dominant and every driver would gladly take a win on fuel mileage over none at all. But it was still via fuel mileage...and, like rain-shortened races, there is always a debate amongst fans whether winning like that should count.
Well, Marcos certainly ended any doubts over that last weekend.
In his first start in a Nationwide car since Homestead last November, Marcos proved that 2008 was no fluke and qualified second, shaking the rust off with a lap record that Kevin Harvick only just managed to beat right at the end of qualifying. I won't bore everyone with a full race-recap as there's only one part of the race that got people talking; Marcos' bold pass on Kyle Busch with a dozen or so laps to go.
There are those who will say it was dirty and those who will hail it as a fantastic piece of opportunistic driving and I'm not going to bother trying to sway you either way. It takes huge confidence in your fellow racer to put your entire race in their hands, forcing them to choose between letting you go or wrecking both cars. Marcos knew this, heck, he's tried some spectacular moves in the V8's...with varying degrees of success.
Who says you can't pass the leader on a road course anymore?
But the main reason why he figured this pass would work was who he was racing against; a title contender.
Ignore, if you can, Kyle's reputation, and put yourself in his shoes for a minute. You're racing a full season in an effort to win the championship and have a handy points lead over the guy in second. Are you really going to risk a collision with a driver who's only going to race a couple times in the year and losing, more or less, half that points gap? On such momentum can a title be decided.
I didn't think you would.
Kyle did exactly what he had to do; stay in the race to consolidate his points lead over Carl Edwards. Marcos did exactly what he had to do; put Kyle in a position where he had to back off. In doing so, he erased the murmurs from a year ago and proved that yes, Marcos Ambrose is indeed a racer and will fight against the best when he has the equipment. This is his fourth year in NASCAR so he's got a decent amount of experience now and most people expected him to contend for the win on road courses in the Cup series this year, let alone the two Nationwide events he was booked in for.
Last Saturday, Marcos proved those expectations were put on the right guy...and gave his fans some funky new pictures to have as their computer background at the same time *laugh*