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Ambrose defends Watkins Glen NASCAR crown
13:37 AEST Mon Aug 13 2012

Marcos Ambrose mastered an oil-soaked track to defend his Watkins Glen NASCAR title, edging Brad Keselowski in a finish the Australian termed chaotic.

Kyle Busch was in control of Sunday's race but was leaking oil and he skidded sideways coming out of the first turn of the final lap.

With Busch spinning out, Keselowski and Ambrose traded positions numerous times on the last lap, battling side by side nearly all the way around.

Ambrose only gained the upper hand at the very last turn, holding Keselowski off in a fender-banging duel to win the Sprint Cup race in New York for the second straight year.

Both went outside the bounds of the race track often, but it was the former V8 Supercars driver who read the oil best.

"It was absolutely chaos at the end," Ambrose said.

"I had really burned off the brakes. I couldn't figure out where it (the oil) was coming from. It was just absolutely crazy at the end."

The result cements the Australian's position in the 2013 Sprint All-Star Race, moves him up one position in the NASCAR standings to 17th after 22 races, and puts him in contention for a wildcard entry into the championship-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup.

"You have to take your chances and you have to commit at that point of the race," he said.

"It was great racing with Kyle (Busch) and Brad (Keselowski), and that's the way racing should be.

"I'm so proud of (crew chief) Todd Parrott and all of the Stanley team. They've done a perfect job here once again."

Richard Petty, owner of Ambrose's No.9 Ford, paid tribute to the 2003-04 V8 champion's resolve.

"In the end, nobody knew what was going on," Petty said.

"They were slipping and sliding off the race track.

"Marcos might have known a little bit about it, but the rest of us didn't. Marcos stayed with it all day. Everything fell our way."

Last year, Ambrose claimed his maiden Sprint Cup title at Watkins Glen, beating Busch and Keselowski on a paint-trading two-lap dash to the finish line.

"Last year was a relief - this year is pure joy," he said.