Ambrose Grabs Watkins Glen Pole

M.Ambrose

Marcos Ambrose will have the No. 1 starting spot for Sunday's Cheez-It 355 as he bids for a third straight Watkins Glen victory. (Photo: Getty Images)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Marcos Ambrose had a bad day Friday.  Saturday was much better.

Ambrose, seeking to win his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International, won the pole Saturday.  After completing his track-record lap of 128.241 mph, he apologized to crew chief Drew Blickensderfer and the team on the radio.

"Sorry I lost my cool (Friday)," he told them.

Ambrose said he was frustrated during Friday’s second practice session while working on the qualifying setup.

"It just didn’t feel like we made enough progress," he said.  "I know we were fast during the practice, but it just wasn’t feeling right for me.  They did a good job of calming me down and not overreacting to what I was saying.  We were just short on time.  We had a lot of work to do because we didn’t test up here and hadn’t done any testing on these style of racing tracks.  We were catching up all day and it got the better of me."

He got the better of the field Saturday.

Ambrose’s lap bettered Juan Pablo Montoya’s previous track record of 127.020 set last year.  The top 10 drivers qualified faster than that mark.  This is the 12th track record the Gen-6 car has set this season.

Clint Bowyer qualified second after a lap of 127.958 mph.  Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., who won at Sonoma in June, will start third after his lap of 127.462 mph.  AJ Allmendinger (127.433 mph) qualified fourth with Kyle Busch (127.400) fifth.

Jamie McMurray starts sixth with Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth completing the top 10.

Among the notables outside the top 10 are Montoya (11th), Kurt Busch (13th), Jimmie Johnson (18th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (25th), Kevin Harvick (26th) and Jeff Gordon (28th).

Max Papis, filling in for the injured Tony Stewart, qualified 29th.  Papis had not made a mock qualifying run during practice as the Stewart-Haas Racing team focused on the car’s setup for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.

"It’s much more of a hurdle," Papis said of not focusing on qualifying.  "I’m proud of my effort.  I’m proud of how much better we made the car.  I really feel we can do something special from where we’re going to start."

Ambrose is looking to do something special.  He’s seeking to become the third driver to win three consecutive races at this historic 2.45-mile road course.  Mark Martin (1993-95) and Jeff Gordon (1997-99) have done it.

"I think that getting through qualifying was a big thing for us because that was one of the areas I was most worried about," Ambrose said after his third career Cup pole and first at this track.  "I feel better about my racecar.  I look forward to the race.  I think we’ve got a good plan for it.  We just have to execute that plan."

He could face some stiff competition from Bowyer and Truex.  Bowyer said he’s never had as good a car at this track as he has this weekend.  Truex also is pleased.

"I’ve never qualified well here before," Truex said.  "I’ve always raced well, but I’ve never qualified well.  Based on the speed we had (Friday) in the car in race trim, this is definitely a big step for us."

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at The Glen beginning at 12 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

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