With four races to go before the Chase, Marcos Ambrose's win vaulted him into serious Chase discussion, but Ryan Newman was also a big beneficiary of Watkins Glen's final lap craziness.
And so too, believe it or not, was Jeff Gordon, who found himself in the wall on the final turn of the race after spinning out because of oil on the track.
"I went to the outside and hit it (oil on the track) and just spun right out," Gordon, who ended up 21st, said. "I'm just really disappointed because we fought hard today to come back to get what was going to be a pretty nice finish. The thing is, I'm just disappointed at how hard we had to fight for the position. The points are going to be what the points are going to be. We can't control what other people do."
"We can only control what we do. And today, we took back control when we got off, and we were coming. It's just unfortunate that that gets taken away from you because NASCAR doesn't want to end the race under yellow. I understand. You want to keep it entertaining and give the winner a shot at it but there are a lot of other things going on our there too. I think they completely disregarded that and hey, it's over now. We'll move on."
One of the other people that Gordon was referring to was Kyle Busch, who was the leader as the white flag lap. Busch, now one of five drivers with a win outside the top 10, looked poised for win number 2 and a steady grip on the final Wild Card spot until that crazy final lap that saw him end up seventh.
""Yeah, (Busch winning) would have impacted it in a big way," Gordon said. "Again, we can't control what other people do. We can only control what we do. And we're not wishing bad luck on anybody. We're trying to go out there and race as hard as we can and get the best finishes that we can get."
If drivers are tied for a Wild Card position via wins, the tiebreaker becomes points position, and thanks to his 11th place finish, Newman tentatively holds the tiebreaker amongst the five with a win, as they are ordered like this:
13. Newman, -49 points from 10th.
14. Busch, -55
15. Gordon, -59
17. Ambrose, -93
18. Logano, -106
Winless Carl Edwards still lurks in 12th, 43 points out of the top 10, and imagine the craziness that could ensue if Edwards wins at Michigan next week? The lack of separation between Newman, Busch and Gordon at this point may mean that avoiding a bad finish is as important as getting that second win, while Ambrose and Logano are strictly needing another win.
We're looking (for a win) next week," Ambrose, who is still searching for his first oval win, said. "We got the pole at Michigan (in June). We were running top five all day there. No reason we can't go there and surprise them again."
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- Jeff Gordon
- Marcos Ambrose
- Ryan Newman
- Kyle Busch