WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Juan Pablo Montoya finally had a race without a mistake, and he proved invincible.
The hard-driving Colombian erased 113 races of futility Sunday, winning a duel with Marcos Ambrose and the Heluva Good at the Glen Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International.
"It's about time," Montoya said. "We've lost a lot of them, gave away a lot of them. It gets frustrating, everybody fighting. There's so many things I have to learn. I still make a lot of mistakes. It's experience. We've just got to learn from it."
Frustration mounted when crew chief Brian Pattie's pit strategy backfired at the previous two races. A late four-tire call likely cost Montoya a win at the Brickyard 400, and he finished 16th a week ago at Pocono after starting second, another pit call that led to harsh words over the radio. A prerace talk at Watkins Glen with team co-owner Chip Ganassi helped clear the air.
Montoya led 74 of 90 laps and beat Kurt Busch to the line by nearly five seconds for his second career victory, the other coming on the road course at Sonoma in 2007, 113 races ago. Montoya gave Earnhardt Ganassi racing just its third victory of the season.
Ambrose was third, his third straight top-three finish at Watkins Glen, followed by AJ Allmendinger and pole-sitter Carl Edwards.
"It's huge," Pattie said after his first career victory. "I still want to win on an oval. He wants to prove his point. The Brickyard was my fault. Hope this makes up for it. Trophies mean a lot."
Ambrose won his third straight Nationwide race over the 11-turn, 2.45-mile Watkins Glen layout Saturday. He was poised to capture his first Sprint Cup victory at Sonoma in June when things went awry. He stalled his No. 47 while leading under a late caution, was unable to keep pace, had to restart seventh when he couldn't get it refired and finished sixth.
He seemed destined to finally break through at the Glen, but the handling on the last set of tires was off, and Kurt Busch slipped past him late.
"It hurts," said Ambrose, who recently announced he was leaving JTG-Daugherty Racing after the season. "It doesn't feel nice."
Montoya was able to pull away on every restart, but each time Ambrose reeled him in. When the race restarted for the final time with 15 laps remaining, Busch passed Ambrose as Montoya took off again, pulling away as Busch kept Ambrose at bay.
Ambrose got past Busch in the first turn of Lap 77 and began the chase again as it became a two-car contest. This time, Ambrose was unable to cut into the lead as Montoya increased his lead from 1.7 seconds to 4.2 seconds.
"We lost the handle on it on the last stop," Ambrose said. "We tried hard all day. Juan drove a heck of a race. He wasn't giving me anything. I just wore out everything trying to pass him."
There are four races left before the Chase begins, and Sunday's race shuffled the standings.
Clint Bowyer was the biggest loser, suffering a broken mount that sent him in for repairs. He finished 31st and fell out of the top 12. Mark Martin, who finished 19th, replaced him for the final spot, 10 points ahead.
Points leader Kevin Harvick had a top-10 run going, but a flat tire cost him several positions on the final lap and he ended up 11th.