A few words can sum up what the final laps of the race at Watkins Glen...chaos and relief.
The final lap was chaotic behind the leaders. Out of the second turn, Boris Said gets into David Ragan, then Ragan heads into the wall, and swings back out hitting David Reutimann. Reutimann does his own version of a gymnastic move, but destroying his race car.
It summed up how much of the crashes were for most of the afternoon. There was Denny Hamlin losing his steering, crashing hard into the tire wall in turn 1.
There was Kurt Busch blowing a tire just past the bus stop, and careening into the outside wall. Menard had a hard hit out of the s-turns...it was a violent and horrific afternoon as far as wrecks went.
But, when it came to the battle for the lead, the chaos led to relief for one driver.
Finally, after all the waiting, the Nationwide victories, and the mistakes costing him a win in years past, Marcos Ambrose finally closed the deal.
He made the pass for the lead out of the bus stop, just barely getting into Brad Keselowski, who was battling a hurt back all afternoon as he was still reeling from his crash at Road Atlanta, and made his way to the front.
He led at the white flag, and when the chaos happened entering turn 2, plus the spin by Tony Stewart entering turn 5, all that was left to do was cheer.
Ambrose got the job done, becoming the 15th different winner this season, and the fifth different first-time winner in 2011. In the previous three years, there were only three first-time winners in NASCAR's top series.
The win by the No. 9 team also provided four writers with another win as the Chase draws near, the first time at least one writer has won a race in over a month.
It also means with some of the picks having issues, there is a major shake-up in the standings. Take a look at how they stack up after the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen:
James Broomhead (761) Marcos Ambrose WON (2)
Sal Sigala Jr. (740) Jeff Gordon finished 13th (3)
Billy Fellin (738) Tony Stewart finished 27th (2)
Kelly Crandall (738) Kurt Busch finished 38th (3)
Christopher Leone (726) Marcos Ambrose WON (3)
Michael Hirshbein (725) Marcos Ambrose WON (4)
Ryan O'Hara (724) Marcos Ambrose WON (2)
Kara Martin (669) Jeff Gordon finished 13th (1)
Dustin Parks (681) Tony Stewart finished 27th (0)
Misan Ayuka (657) Tony Stewart finished 27th (3)
Rob Tiongson (651) Kurt Busch finished 38th (1)
Next Race: There's no more right-hand turns for the season, it's all about big tracks, mid-sized tracks, and short tracks. Next Sunday, the speeds go up, and the amount of room grows.
One of the most popular tracks on the circuit is on the docket as NASCAR heads to the Irish hills of Michigan. It's the Michigan International Speedway that will host the next race in the hunt to make the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Writers, it's high speeds and sweeping corners that will lead to victory at this 2-mile, D-shaped track. Picks for the Pure Michigan 400 are due by Thursday, Aug. 18, at 10 p.m. ET.