Truex wins fuel-mileage gam­ble at Glen

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

Cross an­other track off the list for Martin Truex Jr.

Truex held off a charg­ing Matt Kenseth on the fi­nal lap Sun­day and won the NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional, stretch­ing his fuel to the tri­umphant end. It was his first vic­tory at The Glen and the sec­ond road course win of his ca­reer.

“I’m a lit­tle bit lost for words at the mo­ment just be­cause I’ve been think­ing about this one a long time — all week­end, all day,” Truex said.

“Then, at the end there, it’s just so hard there to let guys pass you for the lead. You’ve just got to lis­ten to your crew chief.”

Crew chief Cole Pearn made the right calls and didn’t flinch when the No. 78 Toy­ota was passed twice in the clos­ing laps.

“It’s a prod­uct of our re­la­tion­ship,” said an emo­tional Pearn, mourn­ing the sud­den death of his best friend. “We don’t squab­ble. We don’t ar­gue. He’s a smart guy. He knew the sit­u­a­tion we were in and did the right thing. Two years ago, I don’t know that we win that race.”

Truex gained the lead when Penske Rac­ing’s Brad Ke­selowski in the No. 2 Ford and Ryan Blaney in the No. 21 Ford for the Wood Brothers were forced to pit in the fi­nal three laps.

“It’s ex­cru­ci­at­ing to go that slow here and try to save that much fuel,” Truex said. “The tough­est part, re­ally, was just watch­ing the No. 2 pass and go on, and then watch­ing the No. 21 pass and go on. It’s like, ‘All right, if they don’t run out of gas, we’re go­ing to look re­ally dumb.’ For­tu­nately, it worked out for us.”

Trail­ing by 3 sec­onds af­ter sav­ing fuel for sev­eral laps, Truex as­sumed the lead when Blaney ducked into the pits as the white flag was about to fly. De­spite a bob­ble and lock­ing the brakes as Kenseth chal­lenged on the last lap, Truex won for the fourth time this sea­son.

“He was so fast, I still couldn’t get to him,” said Kenseth, who main­tained his slim points lead over Clint Bowyer for the fi­nal slot in the play­offs with four races to go be­fore the cut off. “I was rac­ing as hard as I could, try­ing to make as many passes as I could.”

Daniel Suarez was third, the best fin­ish of his rookie sea­son, fol­lowed by Denny Ham­lin and Bowyer. Pole-sit­ter Kyle Busch was seventh.

Truex boosted his play­off points to­tal to a whop­ping 34, nearly dou­ble that of sec­ond-place Jim­mie John­son (18) as his best sea­son shows no signs of tail­ing off.

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