Surviving a succession of restarts in the final 15 laps of Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International, Kyle Busch edged Brad Keselowski for the victory in a two-lap shootout.
Busch collected his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season, his second at the 2.45-mile road course and the 27th of his career Sunday -- but nothing about it was easy.
Aric Almirola's Ford nosed into a tire barrier after a blowing a tire on Lap 60 to cause a caution that interrupted a cycle of pit stops and knocked pole winner Marcos Ambrose out of the lead. Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Martin Truex, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch had already made their final stops, and that quintet led the field to green on Lap 64.
Busch pulled away to a lead of more than two seconds before caution for debris slowed the field for the sixth time on Lap 77. The race restarted on Lap 81, with Busch, Keselowski, Truex and Bowyer in the top four spots.
Busch's work, however, was far from over. After the restart, a wild wreck involving Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought out the seventh caution and required another restart on Lap 85.
Contact between Max Papis' Chevrolet and Ambrose's Ford ignited an accident on the restart lap, with Brian Vickers' No. 55 Toyota also collected in the melee. Forced to lead the field to green for the third time in 15 laps, Busch got away on the restart and held off Keselowski in a battle that intensified on the final circuit.
A multicar wreck on Lap 40 oiled the track and stopped the race for more than 22 minutes. The cars of Ron Fellows and Travis Kvapil collided as they fought for position through the esses, and the ensuing accident also collected the cars of Victor Gonzalez, Tomy Drissi and Landon Cassill.
After the red-flag period necessary for track clean-up, Ambrose led the field to the green for a restart on lap 43, with Kyle Busch second and Kevin Harvick -- who hadn't been to pit road since Lap 16 -- running third.
The wildly fluctuating fortunes of Jeff Gordon hit another low point at the Glen. Gordon pulled up behind Denny Hamlin's Toyota as the cars climbed through the esses on Lap 14. Gordon's Chevy twitched left into the Turn 4 guard rail, slid across the track and nosed into the barrier on the opposite side.
The four-time Cup champion lost 23 laps in the garage as his team repaired the car. Though Gordon returned to the track on Lap 37, he finished 36th and fell out of the top 10 in the series standings.