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Busch had been unable to close on Ambrose before the red flag and was focused on the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in front.

“They’re better,” Busch said, referring to Ambrose. “I’m trying to figure out where I’m getting beat. He’s been driving away.”

On the ensuing restart on Lap 43, Ambrose again sailed clear of the field, building a cushion of 3.5 seconds over Busch as the final pit stops loomed.

The complexion of the race changed when Aric Almirola slid off course into a tire barrier, bringing out another caution on Lap 59. Busch was in the pits when the yellow flag waved, but Ambrose, on a two-stop fuel strategy, had to pit a lap later under caution.

When the race restarted, Busch was in front with Keselowski third and Ambrose 12th, and the car that had dominated the race out front became just ordinary in traffic, unable to move forward. Nine laps after the restart and struggling, Ambrose had picked up only one spot and trailed Busch by nearly 10 seconds.

Truex managed to pass Busch on Lap 65, but Busch banged past him seconds later and Keselowski followed into second. Keselowski stayed close but Busch began to pull away just as he did a year ago when oil spoiled his day.

Ambrose’s luck worsened on a restart with five laps remaining. Papis hit Ambrose from behind and the Australian slammed into the barrier lining the track. He jumped out, threw his helmet in disgust and walked away.

That set up the final dash, and Busch held off a charge by Keselowski, who a year ago had bumped him aside on the last lap.