Here's a look back at the NASCAR weekend at Watkins Glen, pinpointing who excelled and who didn't:
Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski
On Sunday, the top two finishers put on one of the more spirited final-lap battles we've seen in quite a while. It was a no-holds-barred fight that saw both drivers emerge afterward smiling and relishing in the events which had just transpired. And that was what stood out more than anything, as neither held a grudge against the other – particularly Keselowski, who went over and congratulated Ambrose's crew on their victory immediately after stepping out of his Dodge.
After stealing a win at Martinsville, Newman's performance dropped off considerably, as he went 11 races having finished no better than 12th. But in the last five weeks, he has rebounded nicely, finishing no lower than 11th in that span. This turnaround, accompanied with the troubles that affected Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon on Sunday, has surprisingly moved Newman moved into the second wild card spot.
Sam Hornish Jr.
The former winner of the Indy 500 has made it known he wants to return to Cup full time – preferably in the seat of the No. 22 car he currently occupies. But the only way he's getting that ride is if he proves he deserves it. That's something he more than did this past weekend when he raced his way to a fifth-place finish.
Busch's spin on the white flag lap was more than just a driver losing a chance at a potential victory – it had far-reaching consequences for his season. If Busch won on Sunday, at a minimum he'd have been in excellent position to make the Chase, as someone from the Newman/Gordon/Joey Logano trio would have to win again just to tie Busch.
Instead, he likely has to win one of the next four races, which while very possible – Busch has Cup victories at all four upcoming tracks – is by no means a foregone conclusion. If we've learned anything these past two weeks, it's that having the fastest car in the closing laps doesn't mean a thing unless you can actually close the deal.
When the No. 18 car went into the spin cycle, the happiest driver on the track had to be Gordon, who stood to benefit the most from Kyle Busch's misfortune. However, coming out of the final corner, Gordon hit a slick spot on the track and looped around. He went from finishing in the top 10 to 21st and with it, Gordon went from maintaining his lead in the hunt for the second wild card to falling 10 points behind Ryan Newman.
Unlike the two drivers directly above, Tony Stewart can't blame his incident on an overly oiled down track. In this case, the defending champ's single-car spin came while he was running second and was all of his own doing. And how many times has that ever happened before?