The Final Word – Watkins Glen provides a near perfect Cup race, while tragedy strikes in Kansas

If there is anything we learned from Sunday it’s that NASCAR needs more road courses. Hell, just another visit to Watkins Glen would do. On a track that appeared built for the bulky-fendered beasts, with breathtaking aerial camera shots, and with lots going on from start to finish, this is about as good as NASCAR gets. Okay, Denny Hamlin won, but other than that it was almost perfect. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski came next. Maybe the race was not all that great after all.

It sure was not for Martin Truex Jr. It appeared he had a final charge left in him on that final lap. That was before Keselowski spun him, leaving his opponent just a bit peeved, though it appears they came to a civilized resolution post-race. Truex finished seventh, but with a win already in the can the result as not as crucial as it was for some.

We watched to see if Chris Buescher might make up the six points between himself and a Top 30 placing that would activate his win at Pocono into a Chase ticket. He did not. He and David Ragan both took turns contemplating disaster and while Ragan finally got hauled off before the end, the gap had narrowed by only three points. Buescher is not Kyle Busch or Tony Stewart, and his equipment is not quite the same, so moving from 31st to 30th in the standings is not so automatic. Maybe at Bristol. Maybe.

Another winner not currently in the Chase could mess things up a bit. A.J. Allmendinger was fourth on Sunday in a race he dearly wanted to take. In fact, a win is just about the only way he is going to make up the ground between 20th and where he needs to be.

Kyle Larson took a hell of a ride when Allmendinger bumped him out of the way as they headed toward the finish line. That left him 29th, while Jamie McMurray was eighth. So, if Buescher makes up the necessary ground on Ragan over the next four events, Larson’s Chase spot disappears, and he would find himself 30 points out of the hunt if, but more like when, McMurray becomes the new bubble boy.

Keselowski takes over top spot in the standings, both in wins and in points, as a late crash left Kevin Harvick in 34th for the day. However, unless there are some surprises forthcoming of major proportions, the Chase contenders are set. Only if Buescher fails to move up or someone currently outside the Chase wins at Bristol, Michigan, Darlington, or Richmond, we pretty much know who will be there. Kasey Kahne won at Bristol in March of 2013. He could use another one on August 20th when action resumes.

As we take this break from the action, we remember Bryan Clauson. The 27-year old, a former NASCAR Nationwide driver, three-time Indianapolis 500 competitor, and 3-time USAC National Midget Series Champion, died this weekend after a midget race accident in Kansas.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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