Who says you need to battle for every position to win a stock car race? Definitely not Martin Truex Jr and his team.
Under bright blue skies, the I Love New York 355 race at Watkins Glen International played out as one of the cleanest races of the season so far. With a caution-free Stage 1, in which Kyle Busch won the 20-lap segment, and a single caution in Stage 2 for a blown tire, some may say the race so uneventful that it verged on being dull. Others; however, may have seen it as race teams laying out their very best strategies while their drivers raced each other respectfully for position – as seen at the end of Stage 2 when rookie Daniel Suarez used veteran-like moves to block Martin Truex and capture his 1st stage win of the season.
Unfortunately, as the last road-course race of his illustrious career, Dale Earnhardt Jr had a disappointing day when he experienced an issue with his valve train on Lap 20. As a result, Jr sustained his 7th DNF of the 2017 season.
In the end, the race came down to fuel mileage and efforts began to conserve it. With 13 laps to go, Truex Jr was told by crew chief Cole Pearn to let Brad Keselowski pass him. A few laps later, Truex was told to let Ryan Blaney pass, too. While Keselowski tried to maintain the lead and Blaney tried to catch up to him, Truex saved fuel as he lost nearly 3-seconds per lap compared to the lap-times he had been previously running. Running hard, Keselowski and Blaney eventually ran out of fuel and had to pit for a quick top-up before returning to the track. This cycled Truex back to the lead with 2 laps to go and with gas in the tank.
On the final lap, Truex was left to fend off the#20 Toyota of Matt Kenseth who was making up ground quickly. Truex held on and crossed the finish line less than half-of-a-second ahead of Kenseth. This was Truex’s 4th win of the season and his first at Watkins Glen International.
During his post race interview, Truex commented on how difficult it was to ‘purposely’ let someone pass him, but he fully trusted in crew chief Cole Pearn so he did as he was instructed.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be at Michigan International Speedway next weekend for the Pure Michigan 400. Get ready for NASCAR’s fastest track and get your tickets HERE!