NASCAR results at Watkins Glen: Martin Truex Jr.'s fuel strategy pays off in victory
Martin Truex Jr. had one eye on his fuel gauge and the other on the competition Sunday in a victory at Watkins Glen International.
It might sound like a cliche to say that Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen was anyone's race to win.
Yet as the laps counted down, almost everyone near the front of the field went into a fuel-saving mode, hoping to get to the finish line on fumes.
In the end, Martin Truex Jr. played the fuel-strategy game better than anyone, holding off a hard-charging Matt Kenseth for victory in the I LOVE NEW YORK 355.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup points leader earned his fourth win of 2017, and his 11th career win.
"I'm kind of speechless. I really didn't think it was going to play out there," Truex told NBCSN afterward, in reference to the fuel-conservation strategy.
Truex assumed the lead on lap 64, blowing by Brad Keselowski in Turn 7, but immediately got the message from his crew — save gas.
So a few laps later, Truex let Keselowski pass him. A few laps after that, he opened the door for Ryan Blaney, who easily passed the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.
Crew chief Cole Pearn assured Truex via the radio both those cars would have to pit for fuel. Truex, on the other hand, could make it to the end if he was careful.
"It was so stressful to let guys go by for the lead. I've never had to do that before… You've just got to listen to your crew chief," Truex said.
Just as Pearn predicted, leader Keselowski had to pit, out of gas on with three laps remaining. Blaney assumed the lead, but ran out a lap later.
Your new leader: Martin Truex Jr. The fuel strategy had worked just as Pearn predicted.
"To win one like that — we've lost so many, it was a big accomplishment," Pearn said.
Truex held off a furious charge from Kenseth on the last lap to secure the victory.
"Martin had the fastest car today and really did deserve to win," Kenseth said.
Daniel Suarez won the second stage, earning his first stage win of the season. Kyle Busch, who led 21 laps during the race, won the first stage.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., seeking a victory to qualify for the playoffs, had mechanical issues and parked his car after only 22 laps.
Results from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I LOVE NEW YORK 355 at Watkins Glen
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Daniel Suarez
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Kurt Busch
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ryan Blaney
9. AJ Allmendinger
10. Erik Jones
11. Chris Buescher
12. Michael McDowell
13. Chase Elliott
14. Jamie McMurray
15. Brad Keselowski
16. Kasey Kahne
17. Kevin Harvick
18. Paul Menard
19. Ty Dillon
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21. Aric Almirola
22. Danica Patrick
23. Kyle Larson
24. Joey Logano
25. Ryan Newman
26. Austin Dillon
27. David Ragan
28. Matt DiBenedetto
29. Jimmie Johnson
30. Boris Said
31. Gary Klutt
32. Brett Moffitt
33. Corey LaJoie
34. Cole Whitt
35. Trevor Bayne
36. Landon Cassill
37. Dale Earnhardt Jr.