Truex stretches fuel to win at The Glen

by Tucker White On Sun, Aug. 06, 2017

Martin Truex Jr. and his Furniture Row Racing team spray champagne to celebrate victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love New York 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. Photo: Kirk Schroll/SpeedwayMedia.com

Martin Truex Jr. played the fuel game correctly in the closing laps of the I Love New York 355 at The Glen to win at Watkins Glen International.

When caution flew for the final time on Lap 51, Truex opted to pit under the caution, while Brad Keselowski, who had last pitted on Lap 43, stayed out and inherited the lead.

Truex reeled him in and applied pressure for a few laps, before Keselowski pulled aside and let Truex pass him going into Turn 11 on Lap 64.

Truex and others who pitted under the Lap 51 caution were told they were two to three laps short of making the finish, while Keselowski was told he’d be short six laps.

While Truex was saving fuel, Keselowski ran him down and powered by his outside on the approach to the inner-loop with 14 laps to go to retake the lead. Unfortunately for Keselowski, he didn’t conserve enough and pitted with three to go, handing the lead to Ryan Blaney for a brief period, before he ran out on the backstretch and was passed by Truex.

He botched his entry of the inner-loop on the final lap and locked up going into Turn 10, costing him some of his lead to Matt Kenseth. But all that, and running dry coming to the line, wasn’t enough to stop Truex from crossing the line to claim his 11th career victory in his 427th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start.

“I can’t believe that,” Truex said. “Man, that’s so stressful, to just let guys go by for the lead. I’ve never had to do that before. But I guess I was trusting Cole (Pearn). He was telling me what to do. He knew, based on our lap times, how fast we were going and what we needed to do. So hats off to him (and) this whole team.

“I’ve wanted to win here a long, long time. This is a special place. I think, back in the 90’s, watching my dad run here. Coming here as a kid and spending time in the garage, just walking around and wishing someday, I’ll race here, let alone win.

“This is a big one for our team. This is a big one for Cole. He had a tough week. He lost his best friend. We’re really think about his family. Just proud of Cole and his perseverance and everything he does for this team. Barney (Visser) and everybody at home, thank you guys so much for letting me drive this thing.”

Kenseth finished second and Daniel Suarez rounded out the podium.

Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five.

“Yeah, that’s that hard thing. When you have them there at arm’s reach you want to go for it. That’s the win that will put you into the Chase right there in front of you. But if you run out of gas that’s the dagger that will knock you out for good,” Bowyer said on the difficulty of saving fuel. “It’s the right thing. We just have to keep knocking on the door. Another top-five with our Five Star Urgent Care car. It’s a new sponsor on the car. Hopefully we can get them on board for another shot.”

Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, A.J. Allmendinger and Erik Jones rounded out the top-10.

“I stumbled down the back coming to two to go, so we wouldn’t have made it,” Blaney said. “It stinks. I wish I would have saved earlier like the 78 did. I pushed hard and thought we were better to go on gas than they were. They did a good job saving. I could have done better. If I would have started saving sooner I think we would have made it. you never know. I am pretty proud of the effort. We got up front at the beginning of the day and stayed there pretty much all day. I thought our strategy was right and we had a good race car. Things just didn’t work out for us. That is just the way it goes sometimes.”

“Of course you always want more when you come here, at least I do. We had a tough weekend, and we fought hard,” Allmendinger said. “The car wasn’t very good on the first run, and we made some better changes. Got it better. Got it pretty competitive there. I just really struggled in traffic. I got behind Jimmie, and tore up the tires. Once I got by him it was actually not too bad. From there it was just fuel saving. Don’t really know how much you have. I tried to save, I felt like I saved a lot. Maybe a little too much. Overall it was a solid day for the Kroger Clicklist Chevy. Always want more here, but it was a tough weekend and we got everything we could.”

RACE SUMMARY

Even before the race started, Trevor Payne didn’t take the start after pitting twice during the pace laps. He joined the race 10 laps down.

Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag at 3:21 p.m. He led all 20 laps of the first stage on his way to winning it. Chase Elliott, who was among a number of drivers who short-pitted the stage with three laps remaining in the stage, took over the race lead when Busch pitted. Busch came back down pit road for a lug nut that was stuck between the caliber and wheel.

Elliott pitted from the lead on Lap 32. This handed the lead to Suarez, who drove on to win the second stage.

Truex took the lead from Suarez exiting Turn 1 on the Lap 45 restart. On the same lap, Busch and Keselowski made contact in the inner-loop and went spinning, though the race stayed green.

A tire carcass that came from Landon Cassill’s car brought out the third caution and set up the run to the finish.

NUTS & BOLTS

The race lasted two hours, seven minutes and three seconds, at an average speed of 104.132 mph. There were nine lead changes among six different drivers and three cautions for eight laps.

Truex leaves with a 116-point lead over Busch.

Elliott, McMurray and Kenseth leave as the bubble drivers who are above the playoff cutline.

C1722_UNOFFRES
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