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Live from Watkins Glen: Ambrose wins pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race; Keselowski wins Zippo 200

Brad Keselowski, at left, congratulates crew members after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
By Keith McShea

WATKINS GLEN -- Hello on a picturesque day high above the southern tip of Seneca Lake for NASCAR's annual visit to Watkins Glen International. 

Marcos Ambrose, who is trying to win his third straight Sprint Cup race here, has won the pole for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (1 p.m., ESPN).

Clint Bowyer had been atop the speed chart with one final group to go; Bowyer will start second. Martin Truex Jr. will start thrid; A.J. Allmendinger fourth; Kyle Busch fifth. 

Bowyer practically did a stand-up routine in the media center. He did some running commentary on some highlights being played on the track video boards that were also shown in here (including his major skirmish with Jeff Gordon last year). Asked how his car was better this year, he said "camoflauge ... you can sneak up on people." That would be his Toyota's paint scheme, which is camo along with its Duck Dynasty sponsorship this week.

Brad Keselowski, who finished second in both of last year's races at the Glen and was also second in the 2011 Cup race here, earned his first here by charging to victory in the Nationwide Series' Zippo 200 Saturday afternoon.

Keselowski has now won his last four starts in the Nationwide Series (Richmond, Kentucky, Iowa, Watkins Glen). Those four starts have come over the last 15 Nationwide races.

Keselowski, who started fifth, led 46 of 82 laps.

"Today was an excellent day," said Keselowski, who will start eighth in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. "It's great to break through whatever barrier that might [have been], but the most important one is breaking through after those two second places I've had on the Cup side.

"This has been a great track for me. I remember coming here with my dad in the mid- to late 90s and always just having a love affair with the track, whether it's the different fans and the just the atmosphere and ambience. This particular track is something I've really taken to and really like. This is the only true racer's road course, I think, that we run. All the other ones feel like parking lots to me. This is a real road course that has real speed, real banking and genuine handling dynamics. I just really appreciate that and like that about this track."    

Sam Hornish finished second after earning the pole this morning in a track-record lap of 123.291 mph (71.538 seconds). Keselowski and Hornish made for a 1-2 sweep for owner Roger Penske. Joey Logano was running in the top three with his Penske teammates in the late going, but he ran out of gas and finished 21st. 

Brian Vickers was third, Regan Smith fourth and Elliott Sadler fifth. 

Hornish moved past Smith into second place in the points standings and now trails series points leader Austin Dillon by three. 

Stay tuned for more updates here and via Tweeter (@KeithMcSheaBN).

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In Sunday's News, I'll have a story on Ambrose as he seeks three straight victories at the Glen while I'll also have a story on the Nationwide race.

Larry Ott will have a great catch-up with Jeff Kuhn, a Blasdell native and Orchard Park High School grad who is a gas runner on the pit crew of Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 39 Chevrolet driven by Ryan Newman. Newman has had a great year -- Kuhn got to "kiss the bricks" when Newman won at the Brickyard two weeks ago.

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Tomorrow here on the Sports, Ink blog we'll have a live blog monitoring the action. 


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.