If you’re one of those people who think NASCAR racing isn’t action-packed or fun to watch, you obviously weren’t watching Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
The race featured everything a person could want in their racing: side-by-side racing, lead changes, accidents where no one was seriously injured and several cars challenging for the lead as the field raced to the finish line.
Denny Hamlin, driving the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry, ended up celebrating in Victory Lane for his first road-course win in the series, but not before some intense racing action.
Hamlin led the final 10 laps, but as the lead pack approached the finish line, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski were hot on his trail and waiting for the opportunity to slip by Hamlin. They waited patiently for him to slip up, but that moment never arrived.
Instead, Keselowski’s No. Miller Lite Ford Fusion made contact with the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota Camry of Truex just short of the finish line. Truex hit the outside wall, effectively slowing him down to where he finished seventh. The contact also slowed Keselowski, allowing Hamlin to pull away for the win. Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano was able to speed by on the way to capturing second place.
Keselowski finish third, followed by road-course ringer AJ Allmendinger and Tony Stewart. Kyle Busch, Truex, Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 10.
Carl Edwards started on the pole and led the first 25 laps before falling off the pace and finishing in 15th. Other race leaders included Logano (eight laps), Keselowski (race-high 28 laps led), Kyle Busch (four), Truex (one), Kurt Busch (three) and Danica Patrick (11). Patrick’s 11 laps led is the most she’s led in any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Did the win propel Hamlin back into Lionel Racing’s Power 10? If so, where did he land? After setting a personal-best for laps led in a race did Patrick crack the rankings? Did Harvick’s untimely wreck drop him down the standings? Did Keselowski move up or down after leading 28 laps and finishing third?
Find out the answer to these questions and more in this week’s edition of Lionel Racing’s Power 10.
(Note: Only the 10 drivers receiving the highest average rankings are shown. The number of spots they’ve moved since the previous Power 10 are shown in the parentheses.)
1. Brad Keselowski (+3): Brad always seems to do well at Watkins Glen and is usually in contention for the win. On Sunday was no different after leading a race-high 28 laps and finishing third.
2t. Kevin Harvick (–): Happy Harvick probably wasn’t too happy after wrecking out of the race. However, he’s still holding strong near the top of our rankings because he’s been Mr. Consistent this year.
2t. Kyle Busch (+1): Is there a track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule at which Kyle isn’t good? The answer is a resounding “no.” A sixth-place finish at the Glen is a solid showing for anyone.
4. Kurt Busch (+2): Although Kurt hung around the teens for most of the race, he also led three laps, which is more indicative of his season than the former.
5t. Carl Edwards (–): I’ll be honest, I thought Carl was going to run away with the victory. He looked that strong in the early going. If he had held on for the victory, it would’ve been his first at The Glen.
5t. Denny Hamlin (NR): I’m somewhat embarrassed I let Denny’s first road-course win surprise me. After he almost took Tony Stewart’s Sonoma win away, I should have been more prepared.
7. Joey Logano (+3): After winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series race the previous day and then finishing second in the premier event, Joey was firing on all cylinders at Watkins Glen International.
8. Tony Stewart (-1): Tony seems to be channeling old Tony with all of his top-5 finishes (5 in the last 7 races). Could this lead to one of the greatest final seasons in sports history — going out a champion?
9. Matt Kenseth (-1): Although Matt has two wins this season, I think he’s had a quiet season. That’s good for him though. It gives him the opportunity to sneak up and attack when no one’s paying attention.
10. Martin Truex Jr. (-1): Martin’s finish on Sunday had to be a little disappointing. After getting nudged by Keselowski while inching up on Hamlin, Martin spun out into the wall and finished seventh.