WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – The final laps of Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen held a certain sense of déjà vu for both Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr.
Elliott was the leader, Truex was the pursuer, and the fans in attendance at Watkins Glen Int’l watched on with bated breath to see which of the two drivers would end up hoisting the trophy in victory lane.
In the end, just as he did one year ago when he won his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, Elliott held off a hard-charging Truex to go back to back at the 2.45-mile New York road course.
“Wow. That was freaking awesome,” said Elliott, who started from the pole, swept both stages and led all but 10 laps for his fifth career Cup Series win. “I’ve never been so far from home, but this crowd makes me feel like I’m at my house. I love this place. What a day; we had such a fast NAPA Camaro. These guys called a great race and we just had to stay mistake-free the whole way.
“Martin was a little quicker than I was, I felt like, those last two runs … but the track position was king,” he added. “I didn’t mess up (going) into (turn) one this time, either, so that was good. Just a great day.”
The margin between the top two was .454 seconds, nearly identical to the winning gap for Elliott in 2018. He even ran out of fuel before making it to victory lane, just as he did last year at The Glen.
That didn’t matter, though. Elliott’s job was accomplished, and he was cool as ever in victory lane.
“I have to apologize to the fans; my third burnout was about a C-minus,” Elliott said with a chuckle. “We ran it clean out again, but we got to the finish line first … so that’s what’s important, right?”
Notably, Elliott’s 80 laps led on Sunday were the most by a race winner since Tony Stewart led a record 83 laps en route to victory in 2005, 14 years earlier.
Truex stalked Elliott for virtually the entire race, but could never quite get to the back bumper of the race leader to be able to force his way alongside the Dawsonville, Ga., native down the home stretch.
“I tried to do all I could there, but Chase did an excellent job,” lauded Truex. “He just didn’t make any mistakes, and all I could do was get to about two car lengths back of him … maybe one and a half at the closest, under braking, before he got back away from me. I was trying to force mistakes, but he hit his marks and his car was fast in the key areas that it needed to be to hold us off there at the end.
“I just couldn’t get a run on him; I felt stuck,” Truex added. “We passed a lot of cars today, but just couldn’t pass that last one we needed to.”
Denny Hamlin finished a distant third, 11.229 seconds in arrears, with Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney completing the top five.
Matt DiBenedetto took his fourth top-10 of the season for Leavine Family Racing in sixth, followed by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch.
Kyle Busch rebounded from a spin in turn one in the opening laps to cross the line in 11th place.
Including the stage breaks, the race was slowed four times by caution, with five lead changes among four different drivers.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series moves to Michigan Int’l Speedway for its next race on Aug. 11.