WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 7, 2016) -- When it comes to producing dramatic finishes, there's no place like Watkins Glen International.
Denny Hamlin outlasted a slew of late-race crashes and a final lap charge from Martin Truex Jr. to win the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen on Sunday afternoon. The victory is the first in his first career on a road course, and his second trip to Gatorade Victory Lane this season.
A red flag, the second of the 90-lap race, flew with just seven laps remaining after Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, Danica Patrick, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, and Michael McDowell were involved in a heavy incident in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' first trip to the historic circuit since a $12 million repaving project was completed in early 2016.
The ensuing final restart saw Truex Jr pass Joey Logano for the runner-up spot and begin to track down the race leader. In the race's final corner, Brad Keselowski made contact with the rear of Truex Jr and sent him spinning into the outside wall. Logano held on for second, followed by Brad Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger, and Tony Stewart, who finishes his career at Watkins Glen International as the leader in wins, with 5.
"There are so many opportunities," Hamlin said of road course racing. "You can see the leader right in front of you, even if you're in eighth place. It just seems like the last five years or so, the road courses have just become a lot more aggressive. It looks from my cockpit just like it does on TV."
Hamlin admitted that he was nursing a very sore back on Sunday, something that didn't show through in his performance, especially as he held off a host of chargers in the final turn.
"It's more validating, because I feel so awful. It was my job to make [the field] make an aggressive move on me. I could see in my mirror, Martin [Truex Jr.] shoot to the corner out of six, and I knew I had to block right."
Sunday's race totaled eight cautions for 24 laps, two red flags for 30 minutes, and one more dramatic NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish at The Glen.
Watkins Glen International's race season continues September 1-4 with the return of the INDYCAR Series. Tickets are available at www.theglen.com or by calling 1-866-461-RACE.
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