The picturesque hills of upstate New York were awakened this weekend by the roar of horsepower, as NASCAR returned for their road course racing. While this weekend would be the final road course race for the Sprint Cup Series of the year, this would mark the first road race of the season for the Xfinity Series.
In qualifying, it was all about the boys from Team Penske. Joey Logano (#12 Snap-On Tools Ford) absolutely dominated and outpaced the field for the pole. Teammate Brad Keselowski (#22 Hertz Ford) would start alongside.
As the race began, the two Penske drivers would battle for the lead, up through and beyond the first caution when John Wes Townley (#25 Zaxby’s Chevy) caught on fire. Shortly after the restart, Logano would pit from the lead, but be given a pit road penalty when he left his pit box with his gas can. The gas can would land on the exit of the pits, bringing out a debris caution, just as teammate Keselowski was on pit road.
Keselowski would continue to lead the race up through the halfway mark, while many drivers struggled with equipment failures. Landon Cassill, Kyle Larson, and Daniel Suarez all had mechanical issues in the first half of the race. However, these issues would begin to multiply as the racing heated up on track.
On a restart on Lap 40, drivers got aggressive with passing into Turn 1, causing Regan Smith (#7 TaxSlayer Chevy) to spin. And this would not be the end of the aggressive passing, but only the beginning. Drivers would battle towards the front of the pack, including Joey Logano, who fought his way through the field to retake the lead on lap 50.
Meanwhile, pit road was an absolute mess for so many front-running teams. With the pit road at Watkins Glen being backward compared to all other pit roads in NASCAR, penalties flew left and right, hitting each of the leaders at different points in the race. One of the latest ones to be bit was Brad Keselowski, who pitted from the lead and was caught speeding on pit lane.
As Logano regained the lead, a caution would come out with only twenty laps to go, as David Starr (#44 Zachry Toyota) blew a tire. This would set up a crazy late restart, where Brad Keselowski would be able to fight his way back to second. But then, Regan Smith would get turned around and wrecked in Turn 5, bringing back out the yellow flag.
With little time left, the green flag racing became frantic. With seven laps to go, there would be a big wreck in Turn 7, as Kenny Habul (#20 SunEnergy1 Toyota) spun, and was hit hard by Ryan Reed (#16 Lily Diabetes Ford). Caution would come out again, and the race would have to be red flagged to clean up the mess.
Once the red flag was lifted, and the field was ready to go back to green, there were only four laps remaining, leaving it to be Joey Logano’s race to lose. And he would not lose. Joey Logano would lead a Team Penske 1-2 finish, and win the Zippo 200 at The Glen.
Among the other finishers, Brad Keselowski would finish second, and points leader Chris Buescher (#60 Ford) in third. Buescher would extend his points lead slightly over Chase Elliott (#9 NAPA Chevy) going into the next race at Mid-Ohio.
And post race, tensions would boil over after lots of contact on track. Ty Dillon and Regan Smith would come to blows on pit road over an earlier incident, on this the first of three road courses on the schedule.
The next road course comes next weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the Mid Ohio 200. Coverage can be seen next Saturday on NBCSN.