Denny Hamlin took his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road course victory Sunday, winning the sold out Cheez-It 355 from Watkins Glen International. The highest finishing Chevrolet driver of the day was 2014 Watkins Glen race winner AJ Allmendinger, who finished fourth.
The race was chalk full of aggressive racing – a give-in anytime NASCAR arrives at The Glen. Things stayed heated right through to the end, with Martin Truex Jr. pressuring Hamlin over the final 10 laps and attempting to make a pass on the Joe Gibbs Racing driver for first at Turn 6 of the final lap.
That attempted pass for first turned out badly for Truex. As Hamlin led Truex and Team Penske’s Brad Keseloski through Turn 7, Keselowski got into the slower Truex and turned him around. Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano capitalized on the chaos and took second, while Keselowski claimed third.
Allmendinger, meanwhile, found himself locked in an intense battle for fourth with Kyle Larson on the final lap. As the two exited Turn 7, Allmendinger accidentally got into the rear of Larson and spun the fellow Team Chevy driver, sending him sliding into pit lane. Post-race, Allmendinger took responsibility for wrecking Larson and said he “never meant,” to do it.
The final lap incidents were just two of several Sunday. A total of eight caution flags were put out, four of which were for multi-car incidents that occurred in the final 38 laps. Jeff Gordon, filling in for an injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet SS, also picked up damage early after making contact with the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon and spinning him at the Bus Stop.
Apart form Allemndinger, Tony Stewart was another strong-finishing Chevy driver Sunday. Stewart made a mistake early on after overshooting the Bus Stop and taking the escape road, but recovered from the error well to finish fifth. Jamie McMurray, who finished eighth, was the only other Chevy driver in the top ten.