NASCAR Sprint Cup: 5 Game-Changing Moments for Cup Drivers at Watkins Glen

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IAugust 12, 2012

NASCAR Sprint Cup: 5 Game-Changing Moments for Cup Drivers at Watkins Glen

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    Wild and wacky may be the best way to describe the finish of the Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen. It featured hard racing with the leaders and an ending that was exciting and controversial.

    Points got rattled within the top 10 in the standings and the prime candidates for the coveted wild-card slot were switched up.

    The defending winner of this race, Marcos Ambrose, took the checkered flag in a fierce battle with Brad Keselowski. It was his second career Cup win.

    Along the way on the curvy course, mechanical failures took their toll and the inevitable spins were costly to several drivers.

    In the end, the driver who looked to be headed for the win with three laps to go, Kyle Busch, was punted off the track.

    This slideshow will highlight some of the most game-changing moments at Watkins Glen.

Denny Hamlin's Struggles

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    Denny Hamlin wasn't really looking forward to racing his No. 11 Fed Ex Toyota on the Watkins Glen road course.

    The primary car was wrecked during practice on Friday and his engine blew with 31 laps to go. It caused him to finish in 34th position. He is 10th in the point standings with two wins this season.

Pole-Sitter to Garage

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    Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, started on the pole and was running sixth when a suspension failure on the left front sent him to the garage.

    Teammate Jamie McMurray started 10th on the grid, but an incident that caused heavy damage to the left side of his car sent him to the garage. He finished in 39th position.

    EGR does not have either driver in contention for the Chase. They do not have any wins or top-five finishes.

    There had been a slight hint of improvement recently with the teams that might finally be resulting from the major changes made during last winter. Today's race just added to their mediocre season.

    Montoya is known for his road-racing skills. It was thought he might finally be the one to get a win or top-five for EGR, but it was not to be.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Loses Points Lead

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    Dale Earnhardt Jr. looked to be headed for a top-10 finish with his No. 88 Chevrolet, but with seven laps to go, he went for a spin.

    It looked like he just drove too hard into a turn around the "carousel" and lost it. He was able to get the car back on the track.

    Junior dropped to fourth in the standings and his teammate Jimmie Johnson took the lead. The No. 88 was unofficially scored in 28th place.

Tony Stewart Has a Bad Day

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    Tony Stewart started seventh with his No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet. On Lap 27, he was sent to the rear of the field for dragging a gas can out of his pit stall.

    Stewart battled his way to second position when he went for a spin on Lap 72. He backed the car into the guardrail, his team removed the damaged parts on the rear and he returned to the track.

    He was scored in 19th position at the end of the race and dropped two slots to eighth in the point standings. Stewart has three wins this season.

Kyle Busch Almost Got the Win

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    Kyle Busch and his No. 18 M&Ms Toyota looked to be headed for the win. He started the race in second position and was the car to beat. The much-needed second win for the season looked to be a given.

    On the final lap, his car became a bit erratic as he fought to hold on to the lead. It was thought he was out of fuel or had a tire going down. It was obvious something was wrong with the No. 18.

    Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose were hot on his tail and he went for a spin when Keselowski made contact with the rear of his car.

    After the race, it was discovered that the track had oil from another car all around the circuit, but it was not visible. Many blamed Busch for the oil-down, but the oil on his tires was not his.

    Busch refused to comment to the media as he left the track. He had every reason to be upset with the finish of the race that he should have won. He was scored in seventh place and 14th in points.