Saturday, 18 January 2020

NASCAR at Watkins Glen: A battle between road course racing’s best – Beyond the Flag

NASCAR at Watkins Glen: A battle between road course racing’s best – Beyond the Flag
06 Aug

Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. have combined to win five of the last six NASCAR Cup Series road course races, and they put on a show at Watkins Glen International.

For the second consecutive year, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott held off Martin Truex Jr. to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. Last season, Truex drove for the now defunct Furniture Row Racing team, but he now drives for Joe Gibbs Racing.

But the success of these two drivers in road course races is hardly limited to the eight-turn, 2.454-mile (3.949-kilometer) Watkins Glen International road course in Watkins Glen, New York. Based on recent trends, these two drivers are the best road course racers that series has to offer.

Going back to Truex’s victory at Watkins Glen International two years ago, the 39-year-old Mayetta, New Jersey native and the 23-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native have combined to win five of the last six road course races.

Truex then won the race at Sonoma Raceway in late June of 2018. Elliott finished in fourth place.

A few weeks later in early August, Elliott and Truex had their first of two (and maybe more, who knows?) epic battles at Watkins Glen International. Both drivers gave it their all and pushed beyond the limits, making small mistakes along the way, but Elliott prevailed to secure the first victory of his Cup Series career.

Truex ran out of fuel from second place, although he still managed to finish in second, as the two contenders completely checked out from the rest of the field.

Next up was the inaugural race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval. Elliott finished this race in a solid sixth place, and Truex would have won it had Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, desperate for his first win in well over one year, not made a way too aggressive move in the final set of corners on the final lap and wrecked him.

Johnson ended up spinning himself and finishing in eighth place, eliminating himself from playoff contention in an attempt to break his win drought, ahead of Truex in 14th, much to Truex’s chagrin.

The first road course race of the 2019 season was the June race at Sonoma Raceway, and Truex dominated, even on the alternate track layout that includes the carousel. Elliott was forced to retire with a mechanical issue after running in the top three and having a solid chance to finish in second place behind the driver he beat to secure his first career victory.

Then this past Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen International was like last year’s all over again. Elliott and Truex completely checked out from third place and beyond, and even with Truex charging hard to try to force Elliott to make a mistake for much of the third and final stage, Elliott held on to win.

If not for the fact that Johnson was (and still is) on a career-long win drought, Truex and Elliott may very well have combined to win the last six road course races, and with several additional great results to go along with the six victories.

Next: Top 10 NASCAR drivers of all-time

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The next road course race on the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, the Bank of America Roval 400, is the third and final road course race on the 2019 schedule, and it is scheduled to take place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway roval on Sunday, September 29. This race is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Will Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. reign supreme once again?



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