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Ambrose! Beats Kyle and Brad is a wild afternoon at Watkins Glen

Ambrose! Beats Kyle and Brad is a wild afternoon at Watkins Glen

Kyle Busch (18) sideways in oil, just ahead of Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose


   By Mike Mulhern

   Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose put on a heck of a show the final two miles, on an oil-slick track, with a lot on the line for Busch and Ambrose, and Ambrose pulled out the victory in a slam-bang finish.
      "You've just got to take Lady Luck when she strikes," Ambrose said of the brutal climax to the Watkins Glen 355. "It was absolutely chaos at the end. You just couldn't see the oil. It wasn't like a black line on the track; it was like a fine mist."

    Here's the video of the final moments, picking up at the white flag, just after 3:02   http://bit.ly/MQXadu

   Ambrose is looking to help the Richard Petty team renew a sponsorship deal with Ford for 2013. Busch is looking to earn a spot in the Sprint Cup championship playoffs, and needing a victory, not just points.
    Jimmie Johnson, finishing third, and coming out of here with the Sprint Cup points lead -- for the first time since last September -- called it "just a wild last couple of laps.

   "When I first hit the oil, I thought I had a flat tire."
   Johnson, though he wasn't really that much of a factor here, has been on a hot streak since May.
   Busch, on the other hand, has been almost missing-in-action most of this season, oddly, for a man considered one of this sport's best drivers.
    However Busch started from the front row (pole winner Juan Pablo Montoya broke a suspension and retired early) and dominated much of the race.
    But Keselowski and Ambrose were side by side as leaders for the final restart with 16 laps to go in the 90-lapper, with  Busch right behind them stalking.
    Busch then made a daring move to make it three-wide on the outside in the tricky downhill first turn, going off course but holding on to take the lead.
    Keselowski said he gave Busch the benefit of the doubt in that situation, gave Busch enough room to avoid a big pileup at the head of the pack.
   "He tried to out-brake us into turn one, and he did," Keselowski said. "But if I hadn't let him back in line, we'd have all wrecked."
    Busch slowly pulled away from Ambrose and Keselowski and appeared well on his way to a victory that would have all-but clinched him a spot in the playoffs just four weeks off.
   But with two laps to go Bobby Labonte's car apparently began dropping oil, just in front of the three leaders, all three suddenly slipping and sliding.
    Keselowski quickly closed on Busch's rear, and when Busch slipped briefly Keselowski dived under him, tapping him a bit.
   "I had a shot to get underneath him, and I took it," Keselowski said. "I think  he knows I had to make that move. Just like that move he made on that restart -- I showed understanding of his situation, and I hope he understands mine."
    During that tussle, Ambrose closed too, and he and Keselowski, on the last lap, banged into each other several times, with Ambrose coming out the winner of that, and taking his first win since victory here one year ago.


    "That ought to be worth a few ratings points," Keselowski said with a grin.
  "Just hard racing, on a great race track. This is a real road course; the rest of 'em are parking lots with corners."
   Keselowski, who has matured greatly over the past year or so, and now considered one of the six top championship contenders, has never been far from controversy during his career, and he realized here that spinning the leader in the final moments -- even if there were extenuating circumstances, like oil on the track -- would provide more controversy.
   "Looks like you've got a lot to answer for," Johnson joked with Keselowski.
   "You've had days like that too, like Pocono last year," Keselowski shot back, with a laugh.
   And Keselowski spent the next 20 minutes explaining his view of things and manning up to the great debate.

   Keselowski and Ambrose slip away from Busch (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    Ambrose dearly needed a win, because his team's Detroit factory contract with Ford is up at the end of the season.

   So he was driving his butt off. Still it didn't look like enough, until the oil hit the track.

   "It was absolute chaos at the end," Ambrose said.

   "The three cars were very evenly matched.  Kyle had a head start on us. I burnt my tires off, really burnt off the brakes, and I thought I'm going to be stuck. 

     "All of a sudden I'm starting to slide out on oil. 

     "Couldn't work out where it was coming from.

     "Then I saw Kyle backing up to us.

    "I didn't know Brad hit Kyle; I thought Kyle got loose first on some oil. 

     "Can't blame Brad for hitting Kyle.  The guy was sliding across the track, he was going to spin out.  Brad finished him off. 

    "I thought 'Man, there's one. I got one more to go.'

    "Then went up over the hill, and thought I was going to hit the fence.

   "We get down to the chicane, and I'm going to follow Brad because he'll see the oil before I do and I might be able to save myself.  I went straight off the track with him.  That wasn't a good plan.

    "Then I dove to the inside, thinking I was going to get off the oil that way.

    " I slid through the carrousel...got some momentum on it...gave him a shot to try to clear him...and sailed off into turn six. 

     "All I wanted to do is be offline. If I could break off the racing groove, I've got a chance.

     "But I thought I had blown my chance in turn six.

    "Then I went over the curb, shot back the inside of Brad, put him in the oil, he slid on the oil, we snuck through for the win.

    "When it comes to situations like that, it's similar to rain or drizzle on the track -- You never quite know what you're going to get when you get to the corners. 

    "There was a lot of grip, or there was none. Man, I don't know what's happening.  You couldn't see the oil.

    " Normally you could see it on the track, but I couldn't see it.  It was 'wait till the car slides, and try to save it.'"

   Petty says his team's plans for 2013 are still up in the air. "Looks like we'll have to renegotiate our deal with Ford....and after Marcos won, I had my contract in my pocket for Ford to sign right here," Petty said with a laugh. "Don't think that went over too good."



   Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose dirt-tracking the last mile of Sunday's 220-mile at Watkins Glen (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


I think Kyle will file that one away to use on Crashalotski during the Chase if it winds up keeping Busch out of the Chase. Sure there was oil on the track, but Brad just decided he was going through Kyle coming into 1, and then completed it in 2. Brad had better hope Kyle wins at Bristol or Richmond, or his Chase hopes might have went up in smoke with that little tap.

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