Martin Truex Jr. Holds Off Matt Kenseth To Win At Watkins Glen International On Fumesby Camille Jones August 6, 2017 0 comments
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.– Martin Truex Jr. saved enough fuel in the closing laps of the I LOVE NEW YORK 355 to hold off a hard charging Matt Kenseth and win at Watkins Glen International.
Truex Jr. now has four wins in the 2017 season, tying his single-season career high that he set last year. The victory is the New Jersey native’s first at the 2.45-mile road course in New York. He led a race high of 24 laps throughout the day. In the closing laps, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney both had to give up the lead to pit for fuel and that opened the door for Truex Jr. to inherit the lead with just two laps to go. Close on fuel, Truex Jr. had to hold off Matt Kenseth on the final lap.
“It feels amazing,” said Truex after claiming his first win at the track. “Been wanting to win here a long time. Been coming here a long time. Started coming here before I was driving anything but go-karts. Watching my dad race here a couple times and coming here as just a kid running through the garage trying to learn about race cars and then racing here in the Busch North Series myself kind of before I got my big break. Definitely feels really special to finally get that win here. I consider it one of my home tracks with Pocono, Dover, New Hampshire, and Watkins Glen.
“I mean, these are the Northeast tracks, where we grew up racing. This is where my family raced. This is where my dad raced. This is really the group of tracks that got me an opportunity to drive cars for a living,” he added. “Really cool to check this one off the list as well as everybody wants to win on road courses because it’s kind of a feather‑in‑the‑cap type of deal. Now to have one at each of the road courses is pretty special, and definitely an awesome day, an awesome weekend.”
Many drivers had to pit in the closing laps in order to have enough fuel to make it to the end of the 90-lap race. With no cautions allowing them to save fuel, those who tried to save fuel were forced to give up positions, while others chose to play it safe and hit pit road.
Matt Kenseth held on to finish second in the I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at the Glen. He drove his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Care Toyota to finish in the top-10 for the 10th time in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Kenseth has yet to solidify a spot in this year’s Playoffs, so a win on Sunday was certainly needed for the veteran driver.
After Sunday’s race, Kenseth said, “I mean, I realize how many different winners there’s been, and there’s only, I think, maybe three spots or something left, but honestly I feel like with driving for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and having Jason (Ratcliff) as my crew chief and the team we have that we shouldn’t be over a year without a win. It’s kind of our own doing no matter what happens. We’re running a lot better lately.”
Rookie Daniel Suarez finished third on Sunday, capturing his career-best finish in the series. He led 14 laps in the race and won Stage 2 of the event after putting huge blocks on Truex Jr. in the final lap of the stage. The finish marks his first-career top-five effort in the series.
“It feels very good for sure,” Suarez said. “To be that close is tough. It’s a tough feeling, but I’m proud of all of these guys. I was telling my guys that I’m going to take the fuel tank out myself to see how much fuel we’ve got left and if we have half a gallon I want to feel bad to myself because I felt like I should’ve pushed little bit more. You never know if those guys were running out and I could win this thing. But, I’m just so proud of these guys. Everyone that put this program together, I’m very happy to be a small part of it.”
Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five in the finishing order, while Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, AJ Allmendinger and Erik Jones completed the top-10.
There were several spins throughout the race that did not bring out the caution. On lap 45, Brad Keselowski and Stage 1 winner Kyle Busch were side-by-side when Keselowski hit the curb and bounced into Busch as he passed by in the bus stop. Both drivers went spinning.
After the restart for the third stage, Kyle Busch made contact with Danica Patrick in Turn 1, sending her spinning. All of the cars involved in both incidents continued on without bringing out the yellow flag.
There were only three official cautions. Two for the ends of Stages 1 and 2, and one caution for Landon Cassill dropping debris after cutting a tire.
Martin Truex, Jr. still leads the points standings in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, now by 116 points over Kyle Busch.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes on Michigan International Speedway next weekend for the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, August 13 at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be found on NBC Sports Network and Motor Racing Network.
Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images