With drivers racing with heavy hearts following the tragic incident involving Tony Stewart and Sprint Car driver Kevin Ward Jr., the world’s best stock car drivers knew they had to put on a great show to allow the fans to forget about the events that occurred, even if it was for just a few hours.
When you see finishes like 2012’s epic duel between Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski, or last year’s battle between Keselowski and Kyle Busch, you know Watkins Glen can put on one heck of a show. Not to mention, with the new chase rules, if you win a race within the first 26 races (and attempt to qualify for every race as well as remain in the top 30 in points) you will be eligible for the chase.
We’ve already seen one first time winner this season when Aric Almirola took the checkered flag at Daytona, and for the first time since 2011, we now have two first-time winners in one season.
Judging by the first few laps of the race, it appeared that Jeff Gordon and the heavily favored Ambrose were going to battle it out all day for the trophy, until Gordon’s car lost power around lap 50. Gordon ended up finishing the race in 34th position, four laps down.
Ambrose was unsurprisingly solid all day long, having the best average running position (third) and highest driver rating (130.9). However, Gordon’s misfortunes may have opened the door for a driver whom everyone thought was a contender for the victory, A.J. Allmedinger. And he did not disappoint.
After taking the lead on a restart after a massive red-flag-causing wreck involving Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick, Michael McDowell, Greg Biffle and Alex Bowman, not even Ambrose could shake Allmendinger from the top spot. Even when Denny Hamlin, Alex Kennedy and Reed Sorenson wrecked with just a few laps to go, setting up a restart with just two laps to go, Allmedinger was able to defeat Ambrose by 1.160 seconds and claim his spot in the chase. With Allmendinger’s victory, here’s a look at the updated chase grid as well as five drivers who are on the outside looking in.
1) Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 3 wins, 1st in points.
2) Brad Keselowski, 3 wins, 4th in points.
3) Jimmie Johnson, 3 wins, 7th in points
4) Jeff Gordon, 2 wins, 2nd in points
5) Joey Logano, 2 wins, 5th in points
6) Carl Edwards, 2 wins, 6th in points
7) Kevin Harvick, 2 wins, 9th in points
8) Kyle Busch, 1 win, 15th in points
9) Denny Hamlin, 1 win, 20th in points
10) Kurt Busch, 1 win, 21st in points
11) Aric Almirola, 1 win, 23rd in points
12) A.J. Allmendinger, 1 win, 24th in points
13) Matt Kenseth, 0 wins, 3rd in points
14) Ryan Newman, 0 wins, 8th in points
15) Kyle Larson, 0 wins, 10th in points
16) Clint Bowyer, 0 wins, 11th in points
Outside Looking In:
Greg Biffle, 8 points behind Bowyer
Kasey Kahne, 12 points behind Bowyer
Austin Dillon, 18 points behind Bowyer
Marcos Ambrose, 50 points behind Bowyer
Paul Menard, 60 points behind Bowyer