A potential win spun out of Tony Stewart's grasp on Sunday and so did the points lead out of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s as the two ended up outside the top 20 thanks to late race spins.
Stewart spun in turn 7 after getting his right side tires on the inside curb in turn 7 on lap 71. The contact with the curb, wet from rain during the previous caution flag just a few laps prior, sent Stewart's car around and into the inside retaining wall. He finished 19th.
At the time Stewart, a five-time Watkins Glen winner, was running second to Brad Keselowski after overcoming a pit road equipment violation that put him back in 25th place. Immediately after the violation, Stewart made up 12 spots in seven laps. e's now 8th in the points standings, and as of now, would still start the Chase tied with Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson atop the standings with three wins.
Junior, winless on road courses in NASCAR, ran in the top 10 for most of the day and was in position to maintain his position atop the Sprint Cup points standings, until he spun with eight laps to go.
[Related: Marcos Ambrose victorious in a slip-n-slide Watkins Glen finish]
"I just got in the corner and made a mistake and that was pretty much all there was to it. I was just overdriving the car," Junior said.
The mistake and ensuing pit stop for flat spotted tires dropped Junior all the way to 28th place and put teammate Johnson into the points lead, by one point over Greg Biffle and two points over Matt Kenseth, who finished sixth and eighth, respectively. Junior is now fourth, 17 points back.
"I know most people look at it and they just think we're a shoe-in because we're so far ahead of 11th, but after wrecking out the last two weeks in a row, we needed to get a solid finish and this is definitely not a good track for me, so it's good to get a solid finish," Kenseth said.
That last pit stop that Junior made because of the spin put him privy to the chaos that ensued over the last 1.5 laps around Watkins Glen, a situation that he didn't want to be in.
"(Oil) was everywhere. You couldn't see it, but it was everywhere," Junior said. "So you didn't know where to run and I saw the leaders were coming and I was just trying to get out of the way and they were in oil and I was in oil and then I watched everything that happened in front of me. It was a bad deal, I think. The track shouldn't have oil on it. It's a tough deal I guess. But it finished out with all that oil on the track. I don't really like that. It was a bad ugly finish at the end."
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