Marcos Ambrose beats Brad Keselowski in Watkins Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup thriller

Marcos Ambrose claimed his second successive win at Watkins Glen after emerging up front from a thrilling last-lap battle with Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch

Marcos Ambrose beats Brad Keselowski in Watkins Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup thriller

Fluids on the track during the last two laps threw the NASCAR Sprint Cup race wide open after Busch had looked set to claim a victory that would have solidly placed him as a Chase contender.

Ambrose was the first to slip in the tricky conditions in the inner-loop section, allowing Keselowski to get a run on him, the Penske driver taking advantage and passing the Richard Petty Motorsports Ford to claim second place.

Ahead of him Busch also struggled with the lack of grip, apparently caused by Bobby Labonte's car leaking oil, and thus a safe 2.3-second cushion suddenly turned into less than a second going into the final lap.

Busch then went wide into Turn 1 and Keselowski tried to dive down his inside entering Turn 2, but the Joe Gibbs driver ended up spinning and hitting the guardrail after the right-rear of his Toyota got clipped by the Dodge's left-front.

Ambrose then performed a similar move on Keselowski, getting the lead out of the Carousel section, although his rival was able to keep the pressure on, hitting the back of the RPM Fusion under braking for the penultimate turn.

The former Australian V8 Supercars champion ran wide on the exit as a consequence but was able to get the inside for the final turn, entering side-by-side with Keselowski, and crucially coming out ahead as his rival got sideways on the slippery surface.

"I was the first one to slip in the oil and it was just getting worse and worse," said Ambrose. "You could tell the car was staying out there because the oil was moving around the racetrack and you just take your chances.

"You've got to commit at that point in the race and it was great racing with Kyle and Brad. They're the two best guys to race. It's just awesome fun and that's the way racing should be."

Keselowski enjoyed the battle for victory so much that he did not seem to mind losing a possible fourth win of the season on the final lap.

He lamented the contact with Busch but said he hoped his rival understood his position as victory was at stake.

"The core of the sport and why people come to watch is to know that we're going to give it our all any given day," said Keselowski. "If the day comes when we don't do that, we're no longer racers... that's our job."

Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson ran a solid race to third and claimed the points lead from his team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr, who spun a few laps from the end and finished 28th.

Jeff Gordon was set for a top-10 result after struggling with handling initially but a spin on the last lap caused him to finish only 21st, temporarily losing his wildcard status for the Chase to Stewart-Haas' Ryan Newman.

Five-time Watkins Glen winner Tony Stewart was in contention for victory but he spun at the final turn after clipping the inside kerb, 18 laps from the end while running second.

Polesitter Juan Pablo Montoya had a rough end to his day after a front suspension control arm broke while he was running fifth.

JGR's Denny Hamlin finished the weekend on the sidelines after an engine failure on lap 50, causing the fourth of five caution periods to wave.

A brief shower forced the pace car to stay out longer than planned during the caution before conditions were good enough again to resume racing.

Results - 90 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                   2h14m48.000s
 2.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Dodge                     + 0.571s
 3.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet               + 9.218s
 4.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                   + 9.269s
 5.  Sam Hornish Jr      Penske Dodge                     + 9.493s
 6.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford               + 10.289s
 7.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota                + 10.489s
 8.  Matt Kenseth        Roush Fenway Ford               + 11.124s
 9.  Regan Smith         Furniture Row Chevrolet         + 11.555s
10.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                  + 12.631s
11.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          + 12.940s
12.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet             + 12.999s
13.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet              + 13.076s
14.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford               + 13.584s
15.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet             + 16.460s
16.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                    + 16.934s
17.  Scott Speed         Leavine Ford                    + 16.976s
18.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                      + 17.050s
19.  Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet          + 23.560s
20.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                  + 23.721s
21.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet              + 24.430s
22.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                  + 26.547s
23.  Landon Cassill      BK Toyota                       + 37.988s
24.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                       + 38.259s
25.  Boris Said          FAS Lane Ford                 + 1m13.902s
26.  Stephen Leicht      Circle Sport Chevrolet        + 1m20.259s
27.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota          + 1m28.469s
28.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet                + 1 lap
29.  Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                     + 2 laps
30.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet              + 6 laps
31.  Kurt Busch          Phoenix Chevrolet                + 9 laps
32.  Joey Logano         Joe Gibbs Toyota                + 19 laps

Retirements:

     Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       63 laps
     Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota                  57 laps
     Jason Leffler       Robinson-Blakeney Toyota          42 laps
     Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet                 41 laps
     Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                      30 laps
     Josh Wise           Front Row Ford                    25 laps
     Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       24 laps
     JJ Yeley            Baldwin Chevrolet                 15 laps
     Chris Cook          Humphrey Smith Toyota              5 laps
     Patrick Long        Inception Toyota                   2 laps
     Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota                     0 laps
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