Entering Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen, Martin Truex Jr. had never won a fuel mileage race. In fact, during the race, he told his team how much he hated fuel mileage races.
Yet, Truex still found a way to win the race—his fourth of the season—and he employed a very risky strategy at the end of the race to hold off his competitors.
With 13 laps remaining, Truex let Brad Keselowski pass him, knowing Keselowski would have to pit before the race concluded. He also slowed down to save fuel to let Ryan Blaney pass him for the same reasoning. According to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass, Truex said he had to have faith in crew chief Cole Pearn’s strategy.
The toughest part really was just watching the 2 [of Keselowski] pass and go on and then watching the 21 [of Blaney] pass and go on,” Truex said. “It’s like, ‘All right, if they don’t run out of gas, we’re going to look really dumb.'”
“As slow as I felt like I was going, I felt like I could have run 10 more laps,” Truex said. “I literally was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, I need to go even slower?’ It’s excruciating to go that slow here and to try to save that much fuel.”
Keselowski was penalized late for driving through more than three pits, which also might have cost him the race.
Truex held off a surging Matt Kenseth to pick up his first career win at Watkins Glen, and he now has the most wins of any driver this season with four.
Truex has also earned 34 playoff points, and he should have at least a 25-point lead entering the postseason. He has been the best driver this year, and Sunday’s win and bold strategy are a testament to his strong season.