Martin Truex Jr. didn’t give up on fighting Chase Elliott for the win at Watkins Glen, but with just a handful of laps remaining, felt the odds of overtaking the leader were slim to none.
“We passed everybody we needed to at the front there; just couldn’t get the 9,” said Truex after finishing second. “We were definitely faster than him, but you’ve got to be a lot faster than somebody here to pass them today with this package.
“We did as good as we good with what we had, and, really, it all came down to that last restart. We beat and banged hard for it going up through the Esses, but he came out on top, and that was the race.”
Truex and Elliott lined up on the front row for the Go Bowling at The Glen final restart on Lap 65. They made contact in Turn 1 and then again going up through the Esses, but Elliott prevailed. From there, Truex could only watch as Elliott turned perfect lap after perfect lap on his way to yet another Watkins Glen win.
A year ago, Truex also came out on the losing end of the battle.
But Elliott had the dominant car Sunday. His Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro won both stages and led all but 10 laps as Truex only led the field for one lap during a round of green-flag pit stops. That was when the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team stayed out one lap longer than Elliott, pitting for the final time on Lap 60 and cycling back out right behind him.
“It’s like a wall of air man,” Truex complained over the radio during the final run as he tried to get to Elliott’s back bumper.
In many of his post-race interviews, Elliott stated he felt Truex was faster than he was late in the race, but clean air ended up being his advantage. The closest Truex got to Elliott was 0.3 seconds.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pass him,” said Truex. “I’d get to two lengths and lose all grip. I was really trying to keep the pressure on him, just hoping for a mistake; but he did a great job. Hit all his marks, and his car was good in some key areas where there was just no way I was going to get a run on him.
“You really fight a penalty (running) behind guys with this package, and, like I said, I passed some other cars that were up front but weren’t near as fast as we were.”