Photo courtesy of Jerry Markland | Getty Images
NASCAR heads to Watkins Glen with a pivotal race for the Xfinity Series on Saturday and the penultimate race in the Cup Series regular season on Sunday. Before the festivities start this weekend, let’s reminisce with six memorable moments at The Glen to get up to speed on what to expect this time around.
1. Kyle Busch/Brad Keselowski/Marcos Ambrose (2012 Cup Series)
What some consider the best final lap in NASCAR history, the white flag at Watkins Glen in the 2012 Cup race is still talked about a lot today going back 10 years. Kyle Busch led Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose, but as Busch entered Turn 1 it was clear he had an issue with oil spilled on the track. Keselowski held the inside entering the esses and Busch tried to stay in front after taking the first turn wide. Keselowski spun Busch out, leaving himself and Ambrose battling for the win. Keselowski sustained a tire rub on the contact from Busch allowing Ambrose to battle his way past him on the final turn after both cars went on the grass trying to maintain control of their cars. The win solidified Ambrose as a road course specialist, having earned both his Cup wins at The Glen.
2. AJ Allmendinger/Marcos Ambrose (2014 Cup Series)
Two of the best NASCAR road course racers of all time battled it out for victory on the last few laps in the 2014 Cup race. Marcos Ambrose, who won at The Glen in 2011 and 2012, was looking to make it three wins in four seasons. However, AJ Almendinger also came in with a lot of road course experience across multiple series. In the end, Allmendinger represented a change in the guard for who could be deemed the road course king by defeating Ambrose for his first career Cup Series win. Allmendinger now has the most road course wins in Xfinity Series history with nine.
3. Kurt Busch/Robby Gordon (2006 Busch [now, Xfinity] Series)
Kurt Busch was right behind Allmendinger and Ambrose in 2014, but the Busch Series race eight years prior is certainly a finish he will never forget. Robby Gordon led Busch to the green flag with 19 laps to go. Busch got a good jump and made it to Gordon’s outside entering Turn 1. Both drivers went past the curb in the turn. Gordon pushed Busch wide to maintain his lead while allowing Jamie McMurray to take second. Busch got Gordon back coming to 13 laps to go with both drivers attempting to cross each other over on every turn. In one last-ditch effort, Gordon cut through the bus stop on the final lap to get by Busch. Busch blocked the move and held on to win the 2006 Zippo 200.
4. Kevin Harvick/Juan Pablo Montoya fight (2007 Cup Series)
Jeff Gordon led the field to the green flag with 18 laps to go when Juan Pablo Montoya attempted to block Martin Truex Jr. from making a pass on the inside in a battle for sixth heading into Turn 1. Truex Jr. got into the back of Montoya, who in turn took out Kevin Harvick on the turn. Harvick parked in front of Montoya after the wreck. The two got out of their cars and began shoving each other. Montoya tried to explain that he didn’t mean to hit Harvick and that Truex Jr. ran into him. Jeff Burton, a teammate of Harvick at Richard Childress Racing who was involved in the wreck, had to separate Harvick from Montoya.
5. Fan tries to get Matt Kenseth’s autograph on the track (2007 Cup Series)
This moment goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. The red flag was brought out after the crash between Kevin Harvick, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Burton. Cars were stopped with 15 laps to go while the track was being cleared. During the red flag, a fan climbed over the fence and ran onto the race track. The fan made his way over to Matt Kenseth’s car near the front of the pack and asked for an autograph before being apprehended as he tried to make his way off the track back in the fence.
6. Chase Elliott’s first career Cup Series win (2018)
It took Chase Elliott eight runner-up finishes before he could join his father, Bill Elliott, in Victory Lane. Elliott took the white flag with a 0.8-second lead over the defending champion, Martin Truex Jr. Elliott overshot Turn 1, allowing the then four-time winner in 2018 to get to his bumper. Truex Jr. ran out of fuel on Turn 6, letting Elliott cruise to the checkered flag in his 99th start. Elliott subsequently ran out of fuel halfway through his victory lap and needed a push to make it back to the start/finish line. That push was provided by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. The win was No. 250 in Hendrick Motorsports history, adding to the historical significance of this race.