For the second week in a row, NASCAR‘s race winner was ultimately decided by pit strategy. Kevin Harvick led Joey Logano as the two raced down the front straight to complete the last lap of the Cheez It 355 at Watkins Glen Sunday, however Harvick would run out of fuel on the second to last turn, giving Logano his first ever Sprint Cup Series road course win.
Towards the beginning of the last lap dash, Harvick seemed to have the advantage over Logano. The Ford driver dove into Turn 1 too hard and ran wide, allowing Harvick to pull away and get into a position where he could save a little fuel. Despite this, Harvick’s car began to run dry as he and Logano entered Turn 10, with Logano making his move on the inside of Harvick at Turn 11.
“It makes up a lot for last week,” said Logano, who lost at Pocono after running out fuel with three laps to go.
“It’s nice it played out this time. We may not have had the fastest race car, but the execution of the day is what won us this race. What goes around comes around, I guess.”
Kyle Busch crossed the finish line in second, with Harvick coasting over the line closely behind the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in third. Busch, who missed 11 races this season due to injuries, must finish the remaining 4 regular season races in the top 30 if he wishes to clinch a Chase berth. He can’t afford to have a poor finish like at Pocono last week, which forced he and crew chief Adam Stevens to take it easy in Sunday’s closing laps.
“We couldn’t afford running out of gas like we did last week and taking home an even worse finish this week, because of how many cars finish on the lead lap typically at a road course,” Busch said post-race.
“We’d be back in the 30s somewhere. I’m sure that was weighing on Adam’s mind on being able to save it and make it to the end and just playing it a little bit more cautious, which is fine. I’m with Adam 100 percent of the way all the time.”
Several big names struggled at The Glen Sunday, including Jeff Gordon, who battled with brake problems all day and turned up 41st. Tony Stewart was also running fifth after qualifying third but was forced to retire when a seal broke in his car’s rear-end, relegating him to last in the final running order. Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne also wrecked on a late-race restart, resulting in 40 and 42nd place finishes for the Chevy drivers, respectively.
NASCAR heads to Michigan next weekend for the Pure Michigan 400. Jeff Gordon is the defending race winner at Michigan, however Logano last won there in 2013, so both drivers will be hungry for a repeat result. Click here for next weekend’s schedule of events, and here for full results from the Cheez It 355 at Watkins Glen.