Gordon's win last week at Pocono had provisionally handed him the second of the two "most wins" wildcards for the Chase, but the #24's spin at Watkins Glen left him with a 21st place finish and means the wildcard is now in the hands of Ryan Newman with one win in 2012 but more points than Gordon and Busch, while Kasey Kahne looks safer for the first wildcard with two wins already under his belt.
"The points are going to be what the points are going to be," said Gordon. 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."
The race winner disagreed. "We had the three fastest cars duking it out for the win. That's the way it should be, and I think they did the right call, said Ambrose. " A lot of guys are going to say, 'Should they have thrown a caution, or should they not?' - but no one wants to see these races end under caution, or bunched back up in these two-by-twos [restarts] making a random finish."
Busch's crew chief Dave Rogers didn't want to get drawn on the matter of criticising the race officials: "I think everything happened too quick [for NASCAR to respond] to be honest with you. By the time that NASCAR realized there was that much oil on the track, everybody was wrecked anyway."
But Rogers insisted that it was far from over for the #18's Chase hopes: "You can get in the Chase without winning," he said. "But it certainly would be nice to have that win. We're going to the racetrack the next four weeks to win the race. I think if you plan on going there to run top-five and beat the #24 car, you're fooling yourself. That's a really strong team with a lot of veteran guys that have won championships."
It's looking increasingly certain that at least one if not several big names will be missing out on the 2012 Chase; but not Jimmie Johnson, who now tops the points standings after the late-race spin for former leader Earnhardt at the Glen. Johnson is only a single point ahead of Greg Biffle, who in turn is just a single point ahead of Matt Kenseth.
As for Marcos Ambrose, he's some way off Busch and Gordon in the points but a second win in the remaining four races before the Chase cut-off could still see him make the championship play-offs for the first time in his NASCAR career. But such concerns are for another day: on Sunday he was happy celebrating his second career win in the series, along with his car owner and seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty.
"You go and you run and you do the best you can and then you try to take advantage of the circumstances that are there," said Petty. "That's what Marcos did today. He didn't create any of those circumstances, he took advantage of those circumstances.
"We had a good car, he ran good all day long. I think he was the excitement in the race because he was about the only one I saw pass anybody," Petty added. "Marcos stayed with it all day."
"We were up there with the big boys and led a lot of laps today and we had to pass a lot of cars to get the win and we did it," summed up Ambrose. "You've just got to put yourself in good positions and wins will come. That's what we did today. We had a fast car, we were in position to take advantage when it went crazy and we got the win.
"We didn't luck into it," he added. "We deserved to get this win - and we'll take it!"
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