The NASCAR Cheez-it 355 at Watkins Glen as it happened

Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, lead the field during parade laps prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2016 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, lead the field during parade laps prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2016 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, lead the field during parade laps prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2016 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Getty Images)

It was another wild afternoon at Watkins Glen International Sunday.  Denny Hamlin scored his first NASCAR Cup road course win and the 28th of his career holding off Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski in a final lap that ended in disaster for Truex.  The race featured 8 cautions, two red flags and left several drivers with mangled racecars. Here’s how it all went down at the Glen on Sunday.

From his second road course pole of the season and his second at the Glen, Carl Edwards led the field to the green. Kyle Larson lined up beside him in second.  Tony Stewart started third just behind Edwards.

Edwards shot to the lead as Larson fell in behind. Matt Kenseth from fourth got past Stewart for third; Stewart fell into fourth.  Kyle Busch was fifth but by the end of the first lap was getting pressure from AJ Allmendinger who had started in 9th.

On lap 3, Allmendinger got fifth and was looking for more after a three wide fight for the spot.  Allmendinger got fourth from Stewart entering turn 1 at the start of lap 4.  Austin Dillon in 17th, spun in the inner loops on lap 4 after contact with Jeff Gordon.  Both cars had damage but were able to continue.  Gordon was soon complaining that he had no downforce and began to slow, falling to 25th.

By lap 8, Kenseth had moved to second,  Allmendinger to third, and Larson had fallen to fourth;  Kyle Busch got by him sending Larson to fifth on lap 10.  On lap 10, Stewart in sixth, missed the inner loop and was forced to stop.  He rejoined the field 16th.

The first caution of the day came out on lap 12 for debris between turns 5 and 6.  Edwards had a lead of just over a second just prior to the caution.

The top 12 stayed out, Kevin Harvick in 13th led a group behind in for stops.  Green came back out to start lap 15. Edwards had a great start and went to the lead; Kenseth and Allmendinger raced side by side for second for a few turns before Kenseth took the spot. On lap 17 though Allmendinger took second from Kenneth, who then got passed by Kyle Busch for third.  Joey Logano settled into fifth.

Kyle Busch grabbed second entering the inner loop on lap 19.

Brad Keselowski took fifth on lap 20.  He pitted on lap 22. Jimmie Johnson also pitted but was penalized for an uncontrolled tire.  Stewart pitted on lap 23.

On track, Truex moved into fifth.

Larson also blew the inner loop on lap 25 and had to stop.  Johnson completed his pass through but was nailed for speeding and forced back in for a stop and go penalty.

Edwards, Kyle Busch and Allmendinger pitted on lap 26. Allmendinger was penalized for speeding and forced in for a stop and go. Kenseth also pitted on the same lap. Edwards was also penalized for pitting outside his box and forced back in for a pass through.

Logano took over the lead on the track on lap 27. He had yet to pit.  Logano made his first stop on lap 34.  He was nailed for speeding on his stop however and forced back in for a pass through.  On track, Danica Patrick was credited with leading, having pitted on lap 14. Kyle Busch was second followed by Clint Bowyer, Keselowski and Paul Menard.

By lap 45, Busch was looking for the lead from Patrick; she pitted on lap 45 and Kyle Busch took the lead. Keselowski had taken second from Bowyer, Kenseth  was fourth, Truex fifth. Truex grabbed fourth from Kenseth on lap 46.

A loose wheel on pit road on lap 47 brought out the second caution of the day.  Many among the leaders pitted including Kyle Busch, Kenseth and Keselowski.  Truex also pitted and was the first out followed by Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Larson and Keselowski.  The top three took only two tires those behind took four.

Kurt Busch was among those staying out.  He led, Edwards also stayed out and was second on the restart to begin lap 53.  Logano, Newman and Patrick followed.  All were told by their respective crew chiefs to save fuel.  Logano shot to the lead, Edwards held onto second; Kurt Busch was third followed by Kyle Busch. Patrick spun entering turn 1 and fell back.

On the same lap a huge crash erupted exiting the carousal involving Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Greg Biffle, Dillon and others. Only Stenhouse and Johnson were unable to move.  Stenhouse spun entering the turn hit the wall nose first, then shot back across the track and was hit by Johnson.  The field was stopped on track and the red flag displayed.

Caution came out after 13 minutes.  All the leaders came in for stop.  Keselowski had the lead, Harvick was second followed by Denny Hamlin. The green came out on lap 56.

Keselowski was able to move to the lead as Hamlin challenged Harvick for second. Harvick was able to hold the spot and Hamlin fell into third.

Behind them in the same spot as the last crash another erupted and caution four came out.  Among those involved, David Ragan, Bowyer and Edwards.  All three cars were able to continue with Bowyer getting the worst damage. None of the leaders pitted and green came out on lap 59. Keselowski held the lead, Hamlin was second, Harvick was trying to hold onto third in front of Kyle Busch.  Harvick pitted at the end of the lap with a possible tire issue.

By lap 62, Keselowski led, Hamlin was second, followed by Stewart and Paul Menard.  All needed a good fuel strategy to make it to the end.

Logano went to sixth on lap 64. He had suffered some damage on the restart.

Caution five came out on the same lap for debris in the inner loop, caused when Landon Cassill hit the dirt.  The leaders stayed out and went into fuel saving mode, hoping to make it to the end.

Green came out to start lap 67. Keselowski went to the lead, Kyle Busch grabbed second from Hamlin. Busch had five more laps of fuel than Keselowski and began pressuring him. Truex was fourth, Stewart fifth. Truex and Stewart also had more fuel than the leader.  With 17 laps to go, Busch was working hard to catch Keselowski and nearly lost it entering turn 1, he was able to hold on but Keselowski was able to stretch out his lead to just over a second.  Behind Hamlin was trying to hold off Truex.  Logano had fifth by lap 76.

Caution six came out on lap 76 when Alex Kennedy lost an engine.  The five second lead Keselowski and Kyle Busch had over third was erased.  Allmendinger was penalized for not maintaining proper speed under caution, he sped up just after the caution to keep Larson behind him, and moved back one spot.

Green came out on lap 80, ten to go.

It was a drag race to turn 1 for Keselowski and Busch, both went wide, and Hamlin shot to lead. Behind them two cars spun and caution seven came out; both cars were able to continue. The top three were Hamlin, Keselowski and Logano.  Truex and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.

The field was lined up for another restart.  That came on lap 83, seven to go.  Hamlin grabbed the lead but it was three wide with Busch and Keselowski on his outside entering turn 1; both went wide, and Logano went to second as Hamlin held the lead, Truex was third, Larson fourth. Harvick and Regan were involved in a crash behind the leaders entering the carousel; Chris Buescher , Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola were also involved and continued, Harvick and Regan did not.  The red flag was displayed once again. When Buescher stopped the safety crew told him to get out of the car; he refused at first, but eventually was forced to and the car was towed back to the pit.

The red flag was lifted after 16:44.  Buescher was able to rejoin the field from the garage.  The restart came with four laps to go.  Hamlin was able to take the lead but Logano was close by. Logano went wide in 1 and Truex and Keselowski both shot by.  Keselowski went high exiting the inner loop and Logano retook third.  Kyle Busch was fifth.  With three to go, Busch went wide in the carousal and lost spots.  Ahead Logano and Keselowski dueled for third, with Keselowski getting the spot entering turn 1.

Truex was looking for the lead as they took the white flag.  The top three separated themselves form the rest of the field. The top three were nose to tail in the final turns. On the final turn, Truex spun after contact with Keselowski as Hamlin headed to the checkered; Kyle Larson also spun after contact with Allmendinger and hit the inside wall hard.  On the cool down lap, Truex expressed his displeasure with Keselowski as Hamlin celebrated his first road course win.

Logano held on for second, followed by Keselowski, Allmendinger, and Stewart fifth.  Kyle Busch was sixth, Jamie McMurray seventh followed by Truex who recovered for eighth; Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth 10th. The full results can be found here.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup series takes a week off before heading to Bristol Motor Speedway in two weeks.  The Bristol Night Race will be on Saturday August 20th with live coverage on the NBC Sports Network at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.