Truex wins fuel-mileage gamble at Glen
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.