WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Marcos Ambrose passed Brad Keselowski on the final lap, then held him off in a fender-banging duel to win the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International for the second straight time.
Kyle Busch, desperate for a win to move back into contention for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, was in control of the race but was leaking oil on the track. He skidded sideways coming out of the first turn of the final lap. Keselowski’s No. 2 Dodge caromed off the side of the No. 18 Toyota and Ambrose followed Keselowski through.
“Busch slipped up big in turn one,” said Keselowski, who suffered damage to the front of his car. “There was nothing he could do. We all checked up and Marcos was right on my bumper. We all just about spun out. We got to the inner loop, and again nothing but oil.”
Slipping and sliding around the 11-turn, 2.45-mile layout, Ambrose and Keselowski battled side by side nearly all the way around. Both went into the grass in the inner loop at the top of the high-speed esses but kept charging.
Ambrose slipped again in turn 10, but Keselowski couldn’t drive past. Neither gave ground, but Ambrose forged ahead in his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford on the final turn, another hard right-hander, and turned away Keselowski’s final charge on the outside.
“I must have hit the oil one more time and he didn’t,” Keselowski said. “I thought I had him, but I hit more oil than Marcos did.”
Entering the race, Ambrose had one win and had never finished lower than third in four starts at The Glen for an average finish of 2.3 and an average green flag speed of nearly 120 mph. Both were tops in the series.
Jimmie Johnson was third to gain the points lead by one over Greg Biffle. Sonoma winner Clint Bowyer and Sam Hornish Jr. were next, giving Dodge two in the top five. Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun late and finished 28th to fall from first to fourth in points, 17 behind Johnson.
Biffle was sixth, and Busch, Matt Kenseth, Regan Smith and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top 10. Ryan Newman finished 11th to move back ahead of Jeff Gordon into the second wild card slot. Kasey Kahne, who has two wins, holds the other. Gordon was also a victim of the oil, spinning late and falling to 21st after having passed Newman.
The top 10 drivers in the standings qualify for the 10-race Chase, and two wild cards are awarded to the drivers with the most wins outside the top 10.