Watkins Glen is the second road course on the circuit and it never disappoints. This track requires racers to be solid on breaks and have smooth transitions into the throttle when winding through this tricky track. This will be the last road course that gets raced on before the playoffs begin. Many drivers are pushing to make the playoffs and this is a course to see a new victor.
Denny Hamlin captured the pole position during qualifying on Saturday, but he quickly surrendered his lead to Kyle Busch on the first lap. After that, it was Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott following closely behind. This lasted the entirety of the stage, except some drivers played the ‘two stop’ pit strategy and came in to pit during the final two-three laps of the stage. The drivers that came in to stop would be able to make it the rest of the race on just one other stop. Truex Jr. stayed out won the first stage of the race.
Kyle Busch restarted the second stage of the race in the top spot, but Chase Elliott was right on his tail. Busch was the faster car moving up through the first half of the track, but going through the interloop and carousel turn, Elliott had the speed. Elliott applied constant pressure to the back of Busch waiting for him to make a mistake. Elliott ran out of patience and dove to the bottom of the track when the two were making that sharp turn onto the front-stretch. The crowd went crazy when Elliott passed up the best in business for first place. The two would race each other to the end up the stage, but Elliott held on to win the second stage of the race. His third straight race with a stage win.
Chase Elliott restarted the third stage in front. He got out in front of the field going into the first turn, but on exit he got loose. This allowed Kyle Busch to retake the lead. Chase was once again back to chasing down Busch. After a Matt DiBenedetto blown engine, the caution came out and drivers made their way to pit road for a crucial stop. Busch had problems during his stop, and he had to come back around for a second stop. This meant that Elliott would restart up front and he ran away with it. Later in the race, it was unsure if Elliott would hold off Martin Truex Jr. on fuel. Elliott had to conserve fuel and hold off of tracking Truex Jr. Elliott had enough separation from Truex and brought home the win on fumes. Elliott won his first NASCAR cup series race of his career.
It was obvious that Chase Elliott had the best car of the afternoon. The way he raced Denny Hamlin in the first stage, and the way he also raced Kyle Busch in the second race proved that Elliott had the speed to get it done. Elliott raced aggressive all day long and he was on a mission. He would race right up on the back of Busch waiting for Busch to get lose or leave an opening. Elliott wanted this race to be his. His dad, Bill Elliott was one of his spotters today as well, and was cool that he was able to help his son win today. Elliott won the hardest race of his career, and it would not be surprising to see him get on a roll. He has had speed in the last three weeks, so he is getting hot at the perfect time. Now it would be nice for his other Hendrick teammates to get some speed as well, but they will come along. It looks like Chevys are starting to gain some speed so it is only a matter of time.
Next week the guys head to fastest track on the schedule. Michigan International Speedway has suited Kyle Larson as of recent and maybe he can defend his crown from winning this race a year ago. A couple races left before the playoffs and many drivers are starting to hunt down those last few playoff spots.