Juan Pablo Montoya hadn’t won a Sprint Cup race since his debut season back in 2007 – but a wait of over three years finally came to an end after the Colombian won a race long duel over Marcos Ambrose for victory at Watkins Glen.

Ganassi team-mate Jamie McMurray led to begin with, but Montoya made light work of him on lap six and pulled away from the field behind.

However Ambrose was also on a charge, picking his way through from 11th on the grid. When he finally passed McMurray for second, he started to close in on Montoya – and after the first round of pitstops was right on the Chevy’s rear bumper. A couple of near misses came before the Aussie finally found a way past on Lap 41, diving down the inside at Turn 1 to snatch the lead away.

Not long after the second caution flag of the day was brought out – and the restart was the beginning of Ambrose’s undoing. He pulled away to begin with, but under breaking his car became very unstable, dropping him to fourth and handing the lead back to Montoya again.

Things only got worse for the Aussie when his Toyota Camry developed a misfire, making the three restarts that followed a huge problem. “The carburettor would have a hiccup, I’d blow the tyres off it. It was a drama. It didn’t help,” he explained.

Ambrose held on to third, but the win was easily Montoya’s, eventually stretching the gap to a few tenths shy of five seconds.

“We executed right and I think we did what we had to all day and we run really smart,” said Montoya. “Yesterday we had a good talk with Chip [Ganassi]. The last few weeks have been really frustrating for the whole team because we’ve been so close to victory and it seemed to keep slipping away. And to come out here today and get the job done the way we did today, it was big. To tell you the truth I feel more relieved than happy right now.”

Kurt Busch slipped past Ambrose to steal second on the final lap, while AJ Allmendinger was fourth and pole-sitter Carl Edwards completed the Top 5.