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Watkins Glen Race Debrief

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Olivia Hartley

Credit: Sean Gardner

It was an exciting race at The Glen, with the final few laps having everyone on the edge of their seats. However, there are quite a few points worth talking about, particularly regarding the race finish contacts. There were a lot of impressive performances from certain drivers, alongside a few lowlights as well. This race review will break it down for you.

AJ Allmendinger’s Amazing Second Place Finish

The 40-year-old just came short of a race win, yet it was nothing less than an impressive race for the veteran. Having early contact on lap two and falling to the back of the grid, he then managed to battle back to a 10th place finish for stage one. Then, after pitting at the yellows, he drove from 21st to 11th during stage two, making a few impressive overtakes in the process. During the final stage, Allmendinger initially overtook Michael McDowell at the first restart, followed by an overtake of Chase Elliot at the second restart for his ultimate second place finish. Despite coming just short of a race win, it was an amazing Sunday for the XFinity championship leader. To quote the NASCAR official Instagram account: “Don’t sleep on AJ Allmendinger at tracks like these”.

Front Row Motorsports’ Surprising Performance

Front Row Motorsports (FRM), a near-bottom end team of NASCAR, were not making headlines with penalties for improper modified parts in the number 34 car. Michael McDowell has not been a standout driver during the season, averaging a finish of 16.8 with an average starting position of 17.7. McDowell’s results have been quite consistent, yet uninspiring. However, today’s performance evoked no less than absolute excitement, including a jaw-dropping round-the-outside overtake for the lead at the esses, while in wet conditions, from the 37-year-old driver. On the other hand, Todd Gilliland was leading stage two before bad luck struck. Due to contact, the rear axle of the car broke and Gilliland was forced to retire. Though this was disappointing for the team, there were some great takeaways from the weekend to help FRM continue to improve in preparation for the next and final race of the season at Daytona.

Kimi Räikkönen’s Debut Performance

After qualifying 27th on Saturday, Räikkönen started the race strong. Kimi overtook 10 cars, including Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr, taking himself up to 17th place within the first 10 laps. He managed to position himself as high as eighth during stage two, before contact with Ross Chastain took him off the track, and ultimately forced him to retire from the race at the start of stage three. Regardless, Räikkönen definitely seemed to enjoy his debut saying, “It was good fun, you know, and I felt more confident all the time and had some good battles and the car felt like it had a lot of speed in there, but that‘s how it goes sometimes.”

Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr.

This battle, or lack thereof, left fans scratching their heads. In the race preview, I predicted a “ferocious fight” between the two. However, quite frankly, it was a terrible race from both drivers. They were never close to contending for the victory, earning 13 and 14 points respectively. This race should be a sounding alarm for Blaney and Truex Jr., demonstrating that wildcard teams could still contend for wins. Going into Daytona, a place where you expect the unexpected, Blaney’s playoff spot is not guaranteed. He will need to up his game, or someone else will.

Kyle Larson and Chase Elliot’s Last Lap Collision

It is widely accepted that the move made by Larson during the final lap was not a clean overtake. Kyle Larson has stated that he is not proud of the fact that he drove his fellow Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) teammate, Chase Elliot, off the track. Elliot responded by congratulating the number 5 team, and Larson. It was an amazing race weekend for HMS nonetheless. Congratulations to Kyle Larson for the win, and congratulations to Chase Elliot for winning the regular season championship.


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