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Daniel Suarez captures Stage 2 at Watkins Glen, Dale Jr. out of race

Daniel Suarez captures his first stage win by fending off Martin Truex Jr. to win Stage 2 at Watkins Glen International.

Daniel Suarez captured Stage 2 of Sunday’s I Love New York 355 NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen International. It was Suarez’ first stage win of the season.

Martin Truex Jr. finished second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones.

Stage 1 winner Kyle Busch began Stage 2 with a loose left front wheel, causing him to make an extra pit stop to replace the wheel. Busch fell back to 27th in the opening laps of Stage 2, but roared back to finish the stage in ninth place.

Of note, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen ended early. He completed just 22 laps before taking his car to the garage with a valve train issue.

“We can’t fix it,” Earnhardt, who finished last in the 37-car field, told NBCSN. “It’s been a really difficult week. We’ve been real down on speed.

“We changed this car inside and out twice this weekend and had made it better. We were hanging in there and had maybe a shot at top-20 at best. It’s frustrating and this doesn’t make it better.”

This is the ninth race in the first 22 of 2017 that Earnhardt has finished 30th or worse (40.9 percent).

Follow @JerryBonkowski