The Latest: Martin Truex Jr. wins 1st stage at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) The Latest on the NASCAR Cup race at Watkins Glen (all times local):
Martin Truex Jr. has won an action-packed first stage of the Cup race at Watkins Glen, followed by Jimmie Johnson and William Byron, as teams began playing the strategy game early.
Kyle Busch, who started second, began the race intent on driving past Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, the pole sitter. After challenging several times on the opening lap, Busch made the pass on the second lap after banging fenders with Hamlin in the chicane.
Moments later, Joey Logano slid off course on lap two and dropped to the rear of the field, then headed to the garage with a broken radiator, his day done.
On the next lap, Aric Almirola was spun out by Ryan Blaney, bringing out the first caution. Almirola pitted along with AJ Allmendinger, who suffered front-end damage after contact with Logano.
Busch took charge on the restart, pulling away to a lead of nearly three seconds over Truex, with Hamlin third and Chase Elliott fourth.
Hamlin, Elliott and Erik Jones pitted on lap 17 as teams revealed their strategies while Busch, who dominated the segment, and Truex stayed on track. Busch pitted the next time around to stay on the same strategy, but Truex stayed out to win his seventh stage of the season.
The NASCAR Cup Series is racing at Watkins Glen.
Denny Hamlin started from the pole on the high-speed road course in New York's Finger Lakes region.
Martin Truex Jr., who started fourth in the 90-lap race around the 2.45-mile natural terrain course, is chasing his third straight road course victory. He won at Sonoma, California, the only other true road course on the regular-season schedule, in late June and is the defending Watkins Glen winner.
Like Sonoma, Watkins Glen can be unpredictable. The Glen has had only one repeat winner - Marcos Ambrose in 2011-12 - in the past 12 years.
NASCAR changed pre-race inspections this week to Sunday morning during its second-straight two-day event and only two cars failed. The times of Paul Menard, who qualified 14th, and Kurt Busch, who qualified 21st, were disallowed. Both Fords were sent to the rear of the 37-car field.
Denny Hamlin's No. 11 will start from the pole Sunday for NASCAR's Cup road race at Watkins Glen International.
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was the first car through the morning inspection process. All 12 drivers who made the final round of qualifying passed.
Hamlin traversed the 2.45-mile layout at 125.534 mph in qualifying on Saturday, just ahead of series points leader Kyle Busch.
Chase Elliott will start third in the No. 9 Chevy, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson. Joey Logano, who won the Xfinity race on Saturday, qualified sixth, followed by Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger, Erik Jones, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell.
The cars of Paul Menard, who qualified 14th, and Kurt Busch, who qualified 21st, were the only ones to fail inspection. Their times were disallowed and both Fords were sent to the rear of the 37-car field.
More AP auto racing: www.racing.ap.org
Updated August 5, 2018