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Race Weekend Review – August 4-5, 2018

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling At The Glen
Elliott finally scores his first win; 250 wins for Hendrick

Watkins Glen, NY, Aug 5/18 (GRW): Chase Elliott led for 52 laps of the Glen race on his way to his first career Cup win but it was a nail-biter right to the final lap and the final few metres to the checkered flag. Coming off the final caution on lap 59 of the 90-lap race Martin Truex was back in fourth place but over the rest of the distance he quickly passed the two cars ahead of him and then in the remaining laps he reeled in Elliott. Despite the veteran Truex’ best efforts, Elliott was able to match him move for move and hold him off for the rest of the distance. Going into the final lap, Truex was still only a few car lengths back and then Elliott wheel-hopped in the first corner and Truex nearly got past him. Elliott recovered and kept going, holding off Truex to the finish.

It was a close thing for both of them. Their hard-fought battle over the final laps gave them no opportunity to save fuel despite having pitted early in their fuel window. Truex’s hopes of catching Elliott evaporated when, almost in sight of the checker, his car ran out of fuel and stumbled – but he was able to coast in, finishing 8 seconds back of Elliott. Elliott himself ran dry on the cool-off lap and was pushed back around by Jimmie Johnson.

WGI MENCS Elliott BElliott 080518 resizeChase Elliott is congratulated by his father Bill Elliott in Victory Lane after winning at Watkins Glen (Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images/NASCAR)

This first Cup win was a long time coming for Elliott but the consensus was that, now that he had done it, more wins would come. The Hendrick team has been in a bit of a slump recently – their previous win had been almost a year ago, so this was looked on as evidence that they were back to their winning ways. The win guarantees Elliott a place in the playoffs and, once in, anything could happen. For the moment the dominance of the ‘Big Three’ was forgotten.

Somewhat overlooked in this euphoric finish was the fact that, earlier in the race, Kyle Busch had looked like being set to dominate it. He started from the front row and led early on, only giving up the lead when he pitted shortly before the end of Stage 1, giving up Stage points so he could cycle back into the lead going into the next Stage. During this second Stage, Elliott did drive down Busch and pass him, leading for 18 laps and taking the Stage 2 win. On the restart, Busch immediately regained the lead and was looking like he was set to win yet another Cup race.

But everyone was going to have to make another pit stop for fuel during the final 50-lap stage. The opportunity came on lap 55 when the fourth and final yellow flew. Busch was still in the lead coming out of the pits. But his previous pit stop had been a disaster. The refuelling equipment had failed and he was gallons short on fuel and he would have to make another pit stop to top up. This dropped him to 31st in the running order with 33 laps left to run. Over those final laps, Busch demonstrated his championship style, chopping his way through the field to finish in third place. Had the two in front of him run out of gas a lap sooner, he would have been the race winner. This was an amazing accomplishment and proof of his remarkable driving skills. Unfortunately, it was also another opportunity for him to display his lack of diplomatic skills when, in the press room afterwards, he slanged his crew for the failure (which was a mechanical failure not a mistake in execution).

Daniel Suarez had another good finish in fourth place while Erik Jones was fifth. Kevin Harvick was never a factor in the race, starting in 15th place and finishing tenth. Jimmie Johnson’s hopes of redeeming himself with a good finish were dashed when he was sent to the back of the field for a pit-stop infraction mid-race and then he tangled with another car near the finish dropping to a 30th-place finish. Denny Hamlin started from the pole but he had a pit stop infraction late in the race and, after that, he was only able to manage a 13th-place result.

The next MENCS race will be at Michigan International Speedway next Sunday, August 12.

Click HERE for the results of the Go Bowling At The Glen race.

wgi nxs preece keselowski pack 080418 resizeBrad Keselowski and Ryan Preece lead the field during the Zippo 200 (Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images/NASCAR) 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International
Logano holds off teammate Keselowski for the win

Watkins Glen, NY, Aug. 4/18 (GRW): The race came down to a battle between the Penske two teammates, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Keselowski had taken the lead under green on lap 63 of The 82-lap race. Ryan Preece had taken the lead momentarily off the final caution on lap 74, but Logano jumped both Keselowski and Preece to take the lead when the green flew, with Keselowski following through into second.

his set up a battle royale between the two Penske drivers with Keselowski closing in closer and closer. With three laps to go, he made an all-out attempt to pass Logano into the first turn. Both drivers were over-driving their cars but it was Keselowski who lost out. His brakes locked and he spun while Logano was able to drive off without incident and cruise home the rest of the way to the race win. Keselowski was able to get going again and finish in tenth place.

Behind them, Preece had taken the green in third place but he was overhauled by Justin Allgaier and A.J. Allmendinger. These two fought it out in the final turn of the last lap with Allmendinger coming out ahead to take second place. Preece, who is known for his prowess as a driver of the NASCAR modifieds rather than as a road-course driver, finished a credible fourth.

Logano and Keselowski had started from the front row. Logano had been assigned to the No. 22 Penske car, the car with which they are hoping to win the owners’ championship with again this year – and, hence, the car which is favoured to win Stage points. Two other Cup regulars were in the second row – Kyle Larson and A.J. Allmendinger. Late in the race Larson was challenging Keselowski for the lead but he dropped out with an engine problem.

Early in the race, storm clouds gathered and the teams started to get ready for rain. Soon after the first Stage ended on lap 20, the rain began and, after a couple of laps on the wet track, NASCAR called all the cars into the pits to fit rain tires and continue. In the wet, Keselowski slid off the track letting Allmendinger take the lead until the end of Stage 2 at lap 40. Meanwhile the rain let up and teams started changing back to slicks. Once the pit stops at the end of Stage 2 were completed, things were back to normal with Keselowski in the lead again. Soon after that the teams made their final round of green-flag pits and were set up for the run to the finish.

This win for the No. 22 Penske car further solidifies its lead in the owner points race. Christopher Bell, despite his ninth-place finish here still has a substantial lead in the driver points 737 to Cole Custer’s 715.

The next Xfinity race will be at Mid-Ohio next Sunday, August 12.

Click HERE for the results of the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen

 IMSA WT levitt 0118 ELK 20242 resize#54 CORE Autosport ORECA LMP2: Jon Bennett/Colin Braun on the podium (Michael L. Levitt/LAT/IMSA)

IMSA WeatherTech Continental Tire Showcase at Road America
A second win in a row for Braun who finishes on vapours

Elkhart Lake, WI, Aug 5/18 (GRW): Colin Braun made it two in a row, doubling up on his win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park the previous month, coaxing the No. 54 CORE ORECA LMP2 car home, leading only the final three laps to win here at Road America. Once again, the team used the strategy of sending out their ‘silver’ rated driver Jonathan Bennett to drive the first stint and complete his required drive time before putting Braun in the seat for the rest of the race.

Robert Alon had put the No. 85 JDC-Miller ORECA on the pole and led the early going but a pit stop penalty followed by an off saw the car dropping a lap down and out of contention. The No. 31 Whelen Cadillac led for the most laps, 58 of the race’s 69 laps. Late in the race the No. 10 Cadillac of Jordan Taylor/Renger Van Der Zande took the lead but as the finish approached they had to pit for gas, handing the lead over to the No. 55 Mazda DPi of Jonathan Bomarito/Harry Tincknell – but they only led for one lap before they ran low on fuel. This left Braun trying to save enough gas to finish while hoping that the rapidly closing No. 99 Misha Goikhberg/Stephen Simpson ORECA would not catch them first. In the end, Braun was the winner but by a mere two-seconds over the second-place ORECA.

The No. 31 Cadillac was third, right behind, while the No. 10 Cadillac was fourth, eight seconds back. The two Penske Acuras were never a factor, after qualifying second and fourth, they finished in fifth and tenth place.

At Elkhart Lake, IMSA announced that, as of next year, they were going to separate the DPi cars and the LMP2 cars into separate classes. With three wins in a row for an LMP2 car one had to wonder the reasoning for this decision. It will make it easier to BoP the DPis without having to try to match them up with the somewhat different LMP2 cars – and it will bring the IMSA LMP2 entries into better alignment with WEC/ACO practice.
In GTLM, in another late race shakeup, the No. 67 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook led the final three laps to take the win after the No. 25 BMW M8 failed in a fuel economy strategy and had to pit for fuel, letting the Ford take the win. The two Corvettes, No. 4 and No. 3 come home second and third in class.

In GT-Daytona the No. 58 Patrick Long/Christina Nielsen Porsche 911 RSR was the winner ahead of the No. 48 Lamborghini of Bryan Sellers/Madison Snow.

The next IMSA WeatherTech race (GTLM/GTD only) will be at Virginia International Raceway, on Sunday, August 19.

Click HERE for the results of the IMSA WeatherTech race from Road America.

IMSA Conti galstad ROADAMERICA 0818 453733 resize#7 VOLT Racing, Ford Mustang GT4, GS: Alan Brynjolfsson/Trent Hindman (Jake Galstad/LAT/IMSA)

IMSA Continental Tire Challenge Road America 120
VOLT Mustang wins after Compass McLaren knocked out of contention

Elkhart Lake, WI, Aug 4/18 (GRW): The Compass Racing No. 76 McLaren of Paul Holton/Matt Plumb were looking like being the winners of the race before they went off the track with just laps to go and were unable to finish. This left the No. 7 VOLT Mustang of Alan Brynjolfsson/Trent Hindman to come through to win by a 23-second margin over the second place No. 28 Porsche Cayman of Spencer Pumpelly/Dillon Machavern.

After winning one race ago at Lime Rock Park, the No. 46 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Hugh Plumb/Owen Trinkler pulled off a third-place finish after a somewhat tumultuous race. The car was involved in the race’s second caution flag, which saw the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG of Russell Ward spin off and collide with the already off-track No. 9 Aston Martin Vantage of Craig Lyons. It was a scary situation when a fuel cell burst and there were a big conflagration. Fortunately, neither driver was injured. Lyons was transported to a local hospital where he underwent a series of tests which were all negative and he was released.

The next IMSA Continental race will be the Biscuitville Grand Prix at VIR on Saturday, August 18.

Click HERE for the results of the IMSA Continental Race at Road America.





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