WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK – Marcos Ambrose has set himself up well to defend his two consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It™ 355 wins. The Australian racer set a track qualifying record Saturday while securing the Pole for the Cheez-It™ 355 during qualifying at Watkins Glen International.
His lap of 68.777 seconds, 128.241 mph, tops the record previously held by Juan Pablo Montoya (127.02 mph in 2012). In total, 10 drivers surpassed the old record: Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Matt Kenseth. Today’s record is the 12th track record broken thus far in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series races was conducted under the new road course format that featured eight groups of five drivers running full qualifying laps together.
“It’s probably been the best track I’ve ever been to,” said Ambrose. “I love the track. I love the area. I love the history behind it.”
Today’s pole marked Ambrose’s third in 177 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and his first since 2012 when he garnered the top spot at Sonoma Raceway. It marks Ambrose’s eighth top-10 start in 2013.
Clint Bowyer (second) posted his ninth top-10 start of 2013 and his second in eight races at Watkins Glen International. Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. (third) posted his third top-10 at WGI. It’s his 10th in 22 races this season.
Sam Hornish Jr. topped the 39 other drivers in the field by navigating the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course in 71.538 seconds (123.291 mph) in qualifying for today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200.
His qualifying lap broke the old track record of 123.41 m.ph. set by Kurt Busch in 2011. It was Hornish’s second pole in three races at Watkins Glen International. It also marked his second pole and 17th top-10 start in 2013. Hornish now has three career poles in 87 NASCAR Nationwide Series races.
Green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It™ 355 is set for 1:00 p.m. Tickets are still available at the gates for Sunday’s race.