It was, for the most part, a race about nothing. This is not to say that Watkins Glen was boring, for it was actually one of those pleasant occurrences where we had an event that actually was entertaining enough to keep us watching. The damndest things can happen on a road course, and they did.
Nothing but wins mean much of anything to Tony Stewart. He ran well for a time, but in the end something in the driveline broke and he wound up with nothing. A.J. Allmendinger had the pole, sought to repeat his win of a year ago, but as strong as he once was, things slowly turned sour and his hopes for a win turned the same way.
Gas, or more specifically the lack of it, bit most of them. We knew for some time that without a late caution, none of the leaders would make it. Kevin Harvick came close, but he hit fumes with two corners to go. That allowed Joey Logano and Kyle Busch to sail by to complete the course one-two. For Logano, it marked his second win of the campaign and 10th of his career. For Busch, he moved into 30th place in points and, with his four wins now counting, he sits second in the standings. I guess that was not nothing, just expected.
No matter what happened to those who already had a win coming in, the race meant nothing. No matter what hardships they might have endured, the race meant nothing even for the winless Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, and Jeff Gordon. Nothing to sweat about for Ryan Newman or Clint Bowyer, for that matter. The gap between being a Chaser and being on the outside is a good 50 points or more. At least it is, for the moment.
Nothing was what some got, but it meant something. Aric Almirola got his car roughed up early as he dived to 17th on the season, more than a race full of points out of it. Kasey Kahne is a point behind him after he got crunched during a re-start. Like everyone else outside the Top Sixteen, no win, no Chase.
However, things could start to mean something as they move on to Michigan, Bristol, Darlington, and Richmond. Should an outsider win, that 50 point cushion disappears and the gap that currently separates those currently between 12th and 16th is only 23 points.
In short, the next four races could prove meaningless as far as the Chase goes, other than to pick up bonus points through victories. That could change if Kyle Busch falters out of the Top 30, or somebody outside the Top Sixteen claims a checkered flag. If either happens, things would get meaningful in a hurry.