One year ago, Chase Elliott held off Martin Truex, Jr. at Watkins Glen International to turn on the siren atop the Dawsonville Pool Room for the first time as a NASCAR Cup Series winner.
On Sunday, he did it all over again.
With Truex, Jr. stalking him, the Dawsonville, Georgia speedster withstood the challenge to score the win at the twisting, turning road course.
“What a day! We had such a fast NAPA Camaro and these guys called a great race,” Elliott said. “We just stayed mistake free and Martin (Truex, Jr.) was a little quicker I felt like those last few runs, but the track position was key and I didn’t mess up into turn 1 this time, so that was good. Just a huge thank you to everyone that makes this happen.”
After starting on the pole, Elliott dominated the day, sweeping all three segments en route to the win. But Truex, Jr. made it tough on the defending winner. On the final restart, the two bounced off each other several times as they raced through turn one and up through the esses.
Elliott was able to come away with the lead, but Truex, Jr. battled back, and stalked the 23-year-old over the closing laps.
In the end, it was Elliott becoming a back-to-back winner at Watkins Glen, recording his second win of the season and the fifth of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
Elliott led all but ten laps on the day, only losing the lead twice. The first time was when he hit pit road after winning the race’s first segment. He gave the lead up a second time to make his final pit stop, but retook it a few laps later when pit stops cycled through.
“I felt like he (Truex) was a little faster than we were really in all reality, and track position was king, and just having the clean air I think made the difference,” Elliott said. “Getting out in front of him on the restart and then guys doing a good job on pit road and not having any mistakes, that was a big deal.”
For Truex, Jr., it was a second straight near miss at Watkins Glen, as he simply could not find a way around the No. 9 Chevrolet to get to the point, having to settle for second.
“I tried to do all I could. Chase (Elliott), he did an excellent job just not making mistakes,” said Truex, Jr. “All I could do was get to within two car lengths or one-and-a-half at the closest in braking. Just trying to force a mistake, but he hit his marks and his car was really fast in the key areas there where it needed to be and leaving a few of the key corners. Just couldn’t get a run on him and was just kind of stuck there. Unfortunate, but our Bass Pro Camry was really, really fast today. We passed quite a few cars and finished up front, just couldn’t pass that last one.”
While the leaders pulled away over the final segment, Denny Hamlin worked his way to third place, giving him his fourth straight top-5 finish.
“Just been better as a whole,” said Hamlin of his team’s recent performance. “Just communication getting better, everything is getting better. I’ve got a first-year crew chief (Chris Gabehart) that’s finding his feet right now and our communication is good. He’s showing up to the race track and bringing me a fast car. I’m driving them as hard as I can. It’s all working right now.”
Erik Jones finished in fourth, with Ryan Blaney in fifth.
Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch rounded out the top ten.
Kyle Busch tried to contend early, only to spin in turn one while trying to race William Byron for second on lap two. Byron would run into Busch after the first segment, leaving Byron’s car with a lot of front end damage.
Busch’s wild day wasn’t over. After drawing a speeding penalty on pit road, Busch was in a battle with Darrell Wallace, Jr., with the two bouncing off each other down the front stretch. As the duo approached turn one, Busch’s car was sent spinning off Wallace’s front bumper, sending the fans into a cheering frenzy.
Busch would eventually pull himself back up to an 11th place finish.
Another driver who saw an expected good day go away was Jimmie Johnson. Fresh off a change of crew chiefs, Johnson started the day in eighth. But his early run was derailed on lap 62 when contact with Blaney in the Carousel turn, sending the No. 48 Chevy spinning.
In the end, Johnson finished 21st.
“He just drove through me in the carousel,” Johnson said. “I tried to hear what he was trying to say…but his lips were quivering so bad when he came to speak. I don’t know if he was nervous or scared or both…I don’t know what the problem is. He just drove through me…and spun me out. And clearly that has big implications with what we are trying to do for the Playoffs tight now, so clearly not happy with his actions”.
Blaney said afterwards the incident was “just racing.”
“I got off the bus stop better than him and he left a lane. I tried to back out,” Blaney said. “I thought he knew I was there. I didn’t mean to spin him. It wasn’t my intention, but it was a good battle back after starting in the back. We had a good car, just could never really get up there to show us how it did, but overall not a bad comeback for this group.”
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Watkins Glen International – Watkins Glen, NY
Go Bowling at The Glen – August 4, 2019
1. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 90.
2. (4) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 90.
3. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 90.
4. (14) Erik Jones, Toyota, 90.
5. (19) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 90.
6. (20) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 90.
7. (15) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 90.
8. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 90.
9. (10) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 90.
10. (7) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 90.
11. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 90.
12. (9) Aric Almirola, Ford, 90.
13. (16) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 90.
14. (17) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 90.
15. (12) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 90.
16. (11) Michael McDowell, Ford, 90.
17. (18) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 90.
18. (22) Paul Menard, Ford, 90.
19. (8) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 90.
20. (13) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 90.
21. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 90.
22. (31) David Ragan, Ford, 90.
23. (21) Joey Logano, Ford, 90.
24. (26) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 90.
25. (25) Ryan Newman, Ford, 90.
26. (24) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 90.
27. (32) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 90.
28. (30) Darrell Wallace Jr., Chevrolet, 90.
29. (34) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 90.
30. (27) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 89.
31. (28) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 89.
32. (36) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 89.
33. (35) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 89.
34. (33) Corey LaJoie, Ford, Engine, 85.
35. (23) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 84.
36. (29) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 72.
37. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Steering, 65.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 98.523 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 14 Mins, 17 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.454 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 13 laps.
Lead Changes: 5 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott 1-22;K. Larson 23-28;C. Elliott 29-58;M. Truex Jr 59;P. Menard 60-62;C. Elliott 63-90.
Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) Chase Elliott 3 times for 80 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 6 laps; Paul Menard 1 time for 3 laps; Martin Truex Jr 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,11,19,18,24,48,42,20,1,10
Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,19,4,14,11,2,88,20,12,48
Top 10 in Points: 1. Kyle Busch – 851 (4 Wins); 2. Joey Logano – 838 (2 Wins); 3. Kevin Harvick – 777 (1 Win); 4. Denny Hamlin – 771 (3 Wins); 5. Martin Truex, Jr. – 753 (4 Wins); 6. Brad Keselowski – 728 (3 Wins); 7. Kurt Busch – 679 (1 Win); 8. Chase Elliott – 676 (2 Wins); 9. Aric Almirola – 640; 10. Ryan Blaney – 633.