An aggressive move by Kyle Larson on the race’s final restart opened the door to a victory Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International.
Larson forced Chase Elliott, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, to the outside and took the lead with five laps to go.
Following Larson were AJ Allmendinger, Joey Logano, Elliott and Daniel Suarez.
Here’s what drivers said at Watkins Glen Sunday:
Kyle Larson -- Winner: “I had the restart before, I kind of got put in a bad spot because he (Chase Elliott) had the dominant position on me with the nose ahead. Every time I was in the right lane yesterday in Xfinity, I was in the same spot, I would always get pinched into the curb. A lot of times I got passed by the time we got to turn two. I figured it was probably going to be the last restart of the weekend. I told myself if I had a nose ahead of him before we got to the braking zone, I was going to have to try my best to maintain that, not let him get a nose ahead of me, pinch my corner off, end my chance of winning. I had a good restart. I got in there hot. Did what I had to do to win. Again, I’m not necessarily proud of it, especially with a teammate, but I feel like I had to execute that way to get the win.”
AJ Allmendinger -- Finished 2nd: “Obviously, Kyle (Larson) drove it in quite deep to get the lead there on Chase (Elliott), and I was getting shoved in the corner. Maybe if I could have gotten the car squared off a little bit earlier in the corner, but obviously I was getting run into so hard that I was happy just to keep it on the race track and not have anybody next to me off the corner. Just proud of everybody at Kaulig Racing. This is absolutely one of the most fun cars I have ever driven in my life. I was hustling it and it was fast.”
Joey Logano -- Finished 3rd: “It was crazy and I am ecstatic about what we did. We got the (second) stage win, and usually, if you get a stage win here you bury yourself, which we did. We were 27th at the start of the third stage. We passed a bunch of cars and got to 17th and then we got stuck around 15th or so. I have to give it to Paul (Wolfe), he put two tires on it and gave us some track position and then we had a couple of more good restarts and it ended up as a top-three. Pretty good.”
Chase Elliott -- Finished 4th: “Just a huge congratulations to Kyle and everybody on the 5 team. Congratulations to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for getting another win. He (Kyle Larson) did a great job. Seriously, they deserve it. Looking forward to going to Bristol next week and trying to get one for our team.”
Daniel Suarez -- Finished 5th: “It was a little bit tight, a little bit loose. I felt like we had to play with the balance of the car quite a bit. But overall, I felt like our car was good. Probably not a winning car, but a solid top-five car. With the right circumstances, we probably could have won the race, but we just spent too much time trying to gain track position.”
Michael McDowell -- Finished 6th: “It is disappointing. I don’t think we quite had enough for the 9 or the 5. I tried to hold them off as long as I could. They just had a bit of pace on me. They were pushing me hard enough that I was getting wide and making mistakes. I tried to make a move on that second-to-last restart there and got a pretty good run on the 5 and went to the inside and it just didn’t work out. We got jammed up on the bottom, and everyone was smashing into each other and we lost a couple of spots. That was pretty much it at that point. It is just disappointing. We’ve got to win to get into these playoffs. But I am proud of everybody at Front Row. We had a fast car and we were in the hunt. It just wasn’t quite enough.”
Tyler Reddick -- Finished 7th: “We lost a lot of track positions when I spun in the bus stop, but we fought our way back and we were in contention for a top five at the end of the race. We started off the day in wet conditions and once the track dried our KCMG Chevrolet got really tight. We made the car better by the end of the race. We finished seventh, but I was hoping for a top five.”
Chris Buescher -- Finished 9th: “We had a really good Fastenal Ford. I am so proud of everybody. Just didn’t need that caution at the end. We needed a green flag run. We were running down the next several ahead of us and we had (newer) tires. That was working for speed. I don’t know if I could have gotten to the lead with green flag runs, but it definitely would have been better than we finished. It didn’t play out the way we needed it to, but still a really solid day.”
Erik Jones -- Finished 10th: “Best road course car we’ve had all year. Thanks to the 43 guys, the hard work is paying off. We need to qualify a little better, but a good day and finish for our FOCUSfactor Chevy. Honestly, I was kind of hoping for more rain. I was having fun when the track was wet. Watkins Glen is one of my favorite road courses, so I’m glad to leave with a top 10 and head to Daytona next weekend.”
Ty Dillon -- Finished 16th: “I’m really proud of our result today with our Allegiant Camaro ZL1. We’re just building momentum, man, and it takes time in this sport to build relationships with a lot of new people, but it feels like Jerame (crew chief) and I are starting to click. The last three weeks, we’ve been running really strong and doing what we want to do. We cashed in a lot of stage points today, but were also able to turn it around and finish 16th. That’s really hard to do on these road courses, and we did it. Really proud of our effort; we’re building momentum at a good time.”
Austin Dillon -- Finished 17th: “We started our day maintaining speed and position in the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Off Road Chevy, and then we had to make a decision with pit strategy. We went with the strategy of keeping strong track position because it was really difficult to pass. During the final stage, we got spun and ended up having to go to pit road earlier than planned, and it put us way back on the restart. We fought back all day long and after our final pit stop, a few cautions came out so we were able to gain some spots. Pretty up and down day for our team, but I’m proud of how hard we worked all day. We’re looking forward to Daytona.”
Kimi Raikkonen -- Finished 37th: “I wasn’t really involved with it. I had a good line there, but everybody seemed to be coming on the left of me, and unfortunately I had no time to react. The first impact, somebody hit the tires or the wheels directly, the wheels spun and something was wrong with the race car, but that how it goes. It was good fun. I felt more confidence all of the time. We had some good laps. It’s a shame. The car felt like it had a lot of speed, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”