A thrilling final lap saw Kyle Busch hold off a big challenge from Brad Keselowski to win the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Busch and Keselowski led the field down for the final restart of the day with two laps to go, and it briefly appeared that Busch was going to pull away before Keselowski started to reel him in again. But in the end, Busch was finally able to nail down a victory at the Glen after leading the most laps in each of the last two Cup races there only to lose out in both of those.
Busch assumed the lead after pole sitter Marcos Ambrose was forced to pit under caution at Lap 62 after his Richard Petty Motorsports teammate, Aric Almirola, went into the tire barriers at Turn 5 – just after Busch pitted under green at Lap 60.
That shuffled Ambrose back to 14th, and things would get worse later for the Australian when, after a restart with six laps to go, he briefly lost control in the esses and was then spun by Max Papis into the retaining wall.
A frustrated Ambrose, who led a race-high 51 laps but finished in 31st place, chucked his helmet and HANS device into his car before being led away by safety workers. With the race’s dominant driver now out of the fight, it was left to Busch and Keselowski, two of the sport’s most outspoken personalities, to duke it out for the W.
“My car wasn’t turning as good as it needed to on cold tires so I was really having it awful trying to get it around there as best I could,” Busch said to ESPN in Victory Lane.
“…This Toyota Camry was awesome today, just fun to drive. Not quite as good as it needed to be. I think we could’ve made it better, but I’m always a perfectionist – I always want it to be better.”
Keselowski, who earned a third consecutive runner-up result at the Glen after overcoming an early spin that sent him out of the Top 10, felt he could’ve had a better chance of besting Busch with some extra laps.
“Kyle’s car was really good after about five to ten laps, and my car was really good for five to ten laps,” he said. “If that last run would’ve been about five laps, I think I could’ve got him but it was only two or three [laps].
“Kyle did a great job with his restarts. I almost had him down here [in the final corner] but I was gonna have to wreck him to do it, and I’ve had enough drama [laughs].”
Martin Truex Jr. was ready to pounce if Busch and Keselowski’s battle escalated with a spin or a wreck but settled for a good third-place finish. Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya rounded out the Top 5.