Winless on the year, Brad Keselowski knew he needed a victory and running second to Kyle Busch on the final lap of the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen, he was in position to do just that.
However, to get to the lead Keselowski would have had to push his way past Busch. This was something he wasn't willing to do, no matter how enticing it may have been.
"(If) you're a married man, I'm sure you look through Maxim magazine," Keselowski responded when asked if he was tempted to wreck Busch. "It's no different ... It doesn't mean there isn't temptation, but there's a level of respect and a code of honor that you have to have as a man."
Busch and Keselowski have a long history of run-ins, most memorably when Busch wrecked Keselowski during a Nationwide Series race at Bristol. The following day during driver introductions for the Cup race, Keselowski called Busch an "ass."
Then there was a year ago when in this race the two made contact on the final lap racing for the lead. The contact dropped Busch back to seventh, while Keselowski went on to finish a close second to Marcos Ambrose.
It was Keselowski's intention to avoid a replay of what transpired 12 months ago.
"I felt like last year was a racing deal," Keselowski said. "(Busch) went off the track, I filled the hole when he came down. If I would have wrecked him today, in my mind it wouldn't have been a racing deal. It would have been just wrecking, and there's a huge difference.
"When you just run into the back of someone and drive them headfirst into the wall, that's bulls*** racing, and I just don't like it."
This was the third consecutive year Keselowski has finished runner-up on the road course, but the day wasn't without adventure. On Lap 14 he was running seventh when he looped his Ford. The spin dropped him to 24th and forced the No. 2 team to alter its pit strategy.
But thanks to the aid of a couple of timely cautions and a savvy gameplan by crew chief Paul Wolfe, Keselowski was able to stage a comeback.
"Paul just saved my butt after I tried to screw up the day," Keselowski said. "We've had some races where strategy has bit us in the butt royally, and today was one of those days where we caught a good break."
On a day when Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and other drivers on the Chase bubble suffered misfortune, it opened the door for Keselowski to capitalize. And thanks to his runner-up finish, the defending Sprint Cup champion jumped four spots in the standings to eighth, 11 points clear of 11th-place Kurt Busch.
But with four races still to go in the regular season, Keselowski isn't looking at the standings scrutinizing his position. What he wants is a win -- something he hasn't done all year.
"I would rather have a win or two and be a Wild Card than finish seventh or eighth and squeak my way in without any wins," Keselowski said. "Because the momentum of a win and the confidence builder it instills in both yourself and the fear that it puts in your competition is more than worth it."