Truex col­lects fourth vic­tory

Ke­selowski’s pit stop with three laps to run proves costly.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By John Kekis

Martin Truex Jr. won a fuel-mileage gam­ble, hold­ing off Matt Kenseth on the fi­nal lap to cap­ture the NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional on Sun­day.

Brad Ke­selowski had a big lead but was forced to pit with three laps to go. That gave the lead to Ryan Blaney, who be­gan to run dry and had to pit be­fore tak­ing the white flag.

Trail­ing by 3 sec­onds after sav­ing fuel for sev­eral laps, Truex as­sumed the lead in his No. 78 Toy­ota and, de­spite a bob­ble and lock­ing the brakes as Kenseth chal­lenged on the last lap, won for the fourth time this sea­son.

Rookie Daniel Suarez was third, fol­lowed by Denny Ham­lin and Clint Bowyer. Pole-sit­ter Kyle Busch was sev­enth. Four races — Michi­gan, Bris­tol, Dar­ling­ton and Rich­mond — re­main be­fore the play­offs start.

Busch, who dom­i­nated qual­i­fy­ing ear­lier in the day, was the class of the field early and gained a big lead on the road course after the green flag dropped. He dom­i­nated the first stage, lead­ing all 20 laps. By the eighth time around the 2.45-mile cir­cuit, Busch held a 3.4-sec­ond lead over Truex, while Ke­selowski in sixth was 10 sec­onds be­hind. It was Busch’s ninth stage win of the sea­son.

Busch, who over­came a pit road penalty early in Satur­day’s Xfin­ity race at The Glen and ral­lied to win, had to re­turn to the pits after his first stop to check for a loose wheel and restarted 34th.

Chase Elliott held the top spot un­til he pit­ted nine laps later, giv­ing the lead to Suarez, who held off Truex to win the sec­ond stage, the first of his rookie sea­son. “Hope­fully, we can keep it up,” Suarez said over his ra­dio.

Busch, mean­while, worked his way through the field and was ninth at the end of the stage, in con­tention again.

On a restart half­way through the 90-lap race around the 2.45-mile lay­out, Truex took the lead from Suarez with a pow­er­ful move on the out­side and pulled away to a lead of more than 4 sec­onds as Busch en­coun­tered more trou­ble. His No. 18 Toy­ota suf­fered dam­age after the restart when he made con­tact with Ke­selowski’s No. 2 Ford in the In­ner Loop while rac­ing for sev­enth.

Ke­selowski bounced into Busch and both slid off course. Ke­selowski stayed out, but an irate Busch pit­ted for four tires and voiced his dis­plea­sure over his ra­dio. Ke­selowski pit­ted a cou­ple of laps later for tires, and when a cau­tion flew he gained the top spot for the restart when much of the field pit­ted.

Truex, who ran up front most of the race, passed Bowyer for sec­ond on lap 61 and be­gan to chase down the leader. He caught Ke­selowski three laps later, pass­ing him on the fi­nal turn of lap 64, a sweep­ing right-han­der lead­ing onto the front straight­away. But with fuel mileage com­ing into play, Truex started to slow his pace to save fuel, drop­ping back as Ke­selowski and Blaney drove past.

JARED C. TIL­TON / GETTY IMAGES

Martin Truex Jr. (above) won his gam­ble on hav­ing suf­fi­cient fuel Sun­day to sur­vive Matt Kenseth’s late chal­lenge at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional.

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