Truex Jr's fuel strategy pays off with NASCAR Cup series victory at Watkins Glen
Martin Truex Jr. claimed Sunday's NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen International.
Truex 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 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 seven, 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 number 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 with three laps remaining. Blaney took the lead, but ran out a lap later.
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.