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NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. notches fourth win of 2017

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates in victory lane at Watkins Glen International after winning the I Love New York 355 at The Glen on Aug. 6, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates in victory lane at Watkins Glen International after winning the I Love New York 355 at The Glen on Aug. 6, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Several drivers either stopped for a splash of fuel or ran out of fuel in the closing laps of the I Love New York 355 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Sunday, but Martin Truex Jr. was able to conserve and stretch his fuel mileage to get to the checkered flag to claim his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of 2017 and even do a celebratory burnout afterward.

“It’s awesome,” Truex said. “It means a lot to be in victory lane, here, at this race track. I’ve been coming here a long time and feel like we’ve been close and had a few slip away from us, but really excited. Great to see an awesome turnout, here, today with the fans and the sellout. Such a unique and great part of the country. This weather is amazing. We love coming up here to race. Pretty cool to check this one off the box, as far as road courses. Everybody wants to win at these places, so to get this one is special.”

Matt Kenseth finished second after closing on Truex on the final lap, unable to completely capitalize on a couple of Truex bobbles on lap 90 of the 90-lap race.

Toyota took the top-four finishing positions and Joe Gibbs Racing the first three behind Truex, with Kenseth’s JGR teammates Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin finishing third and fourth. Toyota dominated throughout the day, also taking wins in the first two stages. A fourth JGR driver, Kyle Busch, dominated and won the opening stage, and Suarez claimed his first-ever stage win in the second 20-lap stage.

Ford driver Clint Bowyer finished fifth. For he and Hamlin, the top-five finishes came after starts in the back because of brake issues suffered during qualifying earlier in the day.

A.J. Allmendinger was the highest-finishing Chevrolet driver in ninth.

After Busch started on the pole and led the entire opening stage, the rest of his race was up and down. He pitted twice during the caution that separated the two stages that made up the first 40 laps of the race because of what felt to him like a loose wheel.

Busch made his way back up through the field, though, as Suarez led much of the second stage, and by stage end, Busch was back inside the top-10. But contact with Brad Keselowski on lap 45 put Busch in the back, again.

“I was going into the corner, and I had the 47 (A.J. Allmendinger) behind me, and when I got into the corner, the 18 (Busch) was next to me,” Keselowski said. “My spotter called it, but we were already in the corner. It was too much for me to avoid. We got into each other, and that hurt everybody.”

Keselowski also was in the back, for awhile, but when the yellow flag waved for the final time just past lap 50, he stayed out and inherited the lead from Truex.

Busch got back up to as high as fourth in the running order with six laps remaining, but he had to pit for a splash of fuel a lap later. He finished seventh.

Truex and Keselowski both led late in the race, each trying to conserve fuel. Truex relinquished the lead to Keselowski with 13 laps remaining, but with four laps to go, Keselowski hit pit road for a splash of fuel, handing the lead over to Ryan Blaney. Blaney pitted two laps later, returning Truex to the top spot.

“I stumbled down the back, coming to two to go, so we wouldn’t have made it,” Blaney said. “It stinks. I wish I would have saved earlier like the 78 (Truex) did. I pushed hard and thought we were better to go on gas than they were. They did a good job saving. I could have done better. If I would have started saving sooner, I think we would have made it; you never know. I am pretty proud of the effort. We got up front at the beginning of the day and stayed there pretty much all day. I thought our strategy was right and we had a good race car. Things just didn’t work out for us. That is just the way it goes sometimes.”

Blaney finished eighth. Other top-10 finishers included Kurt Busch in sixth and Erik Jones in 10th.

While others made quick stops for fuel late in the race still managed top-10 finishes, Keselowski didn’t, due, at least in part, to a pit road penalty for driving through too many pit stalls.

“Tough break. I guess I drove through too many pit stalls leaving,” Keselowski said. “Gosh, it’s a bummer. We weren’t the fastest car today, but we raced real hard and with a lot of heart. That put us in position. I hate that I cost us a top-five to a 15th. Good effort all around.”

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on August 6, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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