13 August 2012
Marcos Ambrose wins again at the Glen
With rain now in the air, NASCAR through the green on lap 62 and was rewarded by Kasey Kahne spinning off in turn 1 next time by, and then by Jason Leffler crashing and dropping oil on the backstretch on lap 64. By now the rain was very evident, but it was also pulsing on and off and was variable at different points around the circuit, delaying the call to throw the green flags again on lap 68.
Keselowski and Stewart were still in the lead with Bowyer now joined on the second row by Kyle Busch. Bowyer forced the #18 wide through turn 1 at the restart, giving Marcos Ambrose the opportunity to get the better of them both and leap back up to third place, but before anyone else could respond the race was back under yellow again for Tony Stewart spinning out of the final corner and crumpling the rear of the #14 into the guardrail at the entrance to pit road.
“Sorry, guys,” said Stewart over the team radio. “I gave it away there.”
That put Ambrose on the front row alongside Keselowski for the green flag on lap 74, but it was Kyle Busch starting alongside Bowyer again on the second row who got the best restart of the leaders to go three-wide into turn 1 and claim the lead. Keselowski initially held on to the #18's rear bumper, but as the laps counted down to the end of the race it was clear that Keselowski had given it his best shot and was now fading. Busch was pulling away and looked safe for the much-needed win that would keep his Sprint Cup "most wins" wildcard hopes alive.
The waning Keselowski lost second place to Ambrose on lap 80, by which point Busch's lead was over two seconds. Short of a caution it looked like Busch was safe: he must have held his breath when Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun in turn 5 on lap 83, but his luck held - Earnhardt was able to get back underway and limp back to the pits without causing a caution. Joe Nemechek was also slow on track as the race entered its final two laps, but he too made it back to pit road.
“I just got in the corner and made a mistake and that was pretty much all there was to it. I was just overdriving the car," explained Earnhardt of his incident.
Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports team mate Jimmie Johnson was meanwhile quietly working his way past Greg Biffle for fourth place, but at the front it seemed that the die was well and truly cast and the podium placed were decided. What could possibly happen now?
The answer was Bobby Labonte. Pace car driver Brett Bodine was among the first to notice that the #47 was smoking up. There were some reports that Labonte's engine was spitting out oil on the track, but none of the official spotters could verify this and so no caution came out. One of the first to experience how bad it was out there was Earnhardt as he was getting lapped by the leaders after his earlier spin.
"I got back on the track and there was just oil everywhere from somebody," he said. "It was everywhere. You couldn't see it, but it was everywhere. So you didn't know where to run, and I saw the leaders were coming and I was just trying to get out of the way and they were in oil and I was in oil and then I watched everything that happened in front of me. It was a bad deal!"
Running in fourth, Jimmie Johnson agreed: "Those last two laps were just out of control with the oil down. You are studying the road trying to see if you can see an oil trail and there really wasn't a large visible one to dodge. But you could feel the oil on your tires and slipping and sliding and then guys are spinning all over. It was chaos," he said.
"We didn't have any reports of oil," insisted NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director John Darby. "The only corner-worker reports were that the #47 was smoking. They were asked repeatedly if he was dropping everything. The report back to us was: 'No, Tower. The track's clear.'"
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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