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Marcos Ambrose leads halfway at Watkins Glen

Aug 10, 2014, 2:33 PM EST

(AP Photo/Derik Hamilton) AP

Pre-race favorite Marcos Ambrose lived up to his early billing, leading at the halfway mark of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International.

Amrbose has led 13 of the first 45 laps of the 90-lap event around the nearly 2.5-mile road course in upstate New York. He’s looking to make a weekend sweep, having won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race also at The Glen.

Jeff Gordon was running second at the midpoint, followed by Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger and Jimmie Johnson.

Sixth through 10th were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers and Kevin Harvick.

Tony Stewart is not competing in the race, having decided to sit out after Saturday’s tragic accident in a sprint car race at a small dirt short track about an hour northwest of The Glen.

Stewart’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet is being driven by Regan Smith, who flew to WGI Sunday morning with Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick.

The event was fairly uneventful through the first half, with just one caution, brought out on Lap 10 when Cole Whitt lost his brakes and plowed hard and head-on into a tire wall.

Whitt was uninjured in the mishap.

Two other incidents of note:

* Kevin Harvick was forced to pit just three laps to remove bean bag ballast weights that got loose under his seat and were interfering with his ability to use the gas, brake and clutch pedals.

* On Lap 27, Kyle Busch‘s Toyota Camry traded paint with Martin Truex Jr.‘s Chevrolet. Busch’s car got the worst of the incident, sustaining damage to left front and left side of his car. Busch pitted, but the damage was too severe to fix there, prompting him to take his car to the Sprint Cup garage for further repairs.

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