Patrick Long, with a long history of road racing in the American Le Mans Series and the Rolex Grand American Series to name a few, was a favorite heading into Saturday morning's Tioga Downs at the Glen 125 at Watkins Glen International road course. His experience and knowledge of how to get around both left and right hand turns allowed the 28-year-old driver to lead 32 laps of the 54 lap NASCAR Camping World Series East race.
But it was the last lap that mattered, and it wasn't Long out front when the checkers flew.
In a green-white-checkered finish that took the race three laps past its originally scheduled distance, Ryan Truex, the younger brother of Sprint Cup Series driver, Martin Truex, Jr., mounted a challenge on the well-versed Long in turn ten. The two tangled, briefly, and it was Truex to the line first for his first career win. It came in his fifth start with the series, and beat out his brother's record of winning for the first time in his sixth start. It was also the first time the 17-year-old driver has ever driven on a road course.
“It means a lot,” Truex said about his win. “It shows that Michael Waltrip Racing is moving up. They are winning in the Cup and now they are winning here. They are getting really strong, and it just shows how good they can be with the right people.”
Truex started sixth and was a factor in the top-three the entire distance of the race. But it wasn't until that final green-white-checkered finish that Truex turned up the heat and made a serious challenge on Long between turn 10 and 11.
“They made contact and the 03 [Long] got up on the rumble strip going through the corner,” said Matt Kobyluck who was right behind Truex when he made the pass on Long. “I gave everything I had going down into turn 11 to try and catch the 00, but he ran hard and he got the position. I didn't even have a shot at it coming to the checkers.”
Truex heeded the advice his older brother gave him coming to the Glen by being patient and saving his tires - the keys to winning this race he said.
“The most important thing for road course racing is patience and to save your stuff for the end, and that's just what we did. We followed the 18 for a while, got by him, and then just cruised around for a while. When we got to the end of he race we just went for it,” said Truex. “We were a lot better than him (Long) up through the esses and through the chicane. I got a really good run on him coming around the carousel turn. He went to the inside to try and block me and I went to the outside and he jumped in front of me. I saw a hole and I just dove in. We got together a little bit, but we both made it out.”
Truex, competing for the Rookie-of-the-Year in the series, moved up to fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Series East Championship standings with his win, and he became the fifth different winner in as many races this season.
“We've been running good every week. We just haven't had luck and we haven't had the finishes we wanted, but at South Boston our luck started turning around. This definitely won't be our only win I can tell you that,” Truex said.
Kobyluck finished second, the defending Champion and race winner's best finish this season.
“We wanted to get back to victory lane here again, and this isn't a win, but we'll take it,” said Kobyluck. “Coming in here we thought we had a car good enough to do it, but changes between yesterday - the cloud cover and cooler temperatures - and today - sunshine and the warmer temperatures - we missed it a little bit.”
ASM driver Brett Moffitt took over the point lead with his third place finish at the Glen.
“It's awesome,” said Moffitt when he found out he took over the point lead. “awesome. The bigger point lead we can get right now makes it an easier walk to go at the end of the season. Hopefully now we have a nice little cushion and we're able to go hard at some races and real conservative to keep that lead.”
Long settled with a fourth place finish.
"He was in there pretty hot," Long told the Elmira Star-Gazette of the pass. "I don't know if he was going to stop without my car being there. We were OK running two-by-two in the corner, but then he kind of gave it a right-hand turn in the middle of the corner and pushed me in the grass. It was a pretty dirty move, but on the last lap of the race anything goes. I understand it. It's racing, but what goes around comes around."
NASCAR Camping World Series East-Tioga Downs Casino 125 at The Glen Unofficial Results
At Watkins Glen International
Watkins Glen, NY
Lap length: 2.45 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (6) Ryan Truex, Mayetta, N.J., Toyota, 54 laps, 62.056 mph, $12,425.
2. (3) Matt Kobyluck, Uncasville, Conn., Chevrolet, 54, $7,100.
3. (4) Brett Moffitt, Grimes, Iowa, Chevrolet, 54, $5,800.
4. (5) Patrick Long, Oak Park, Calif., Chevrolet, 54, $4,800.
5. (1) Matt DiBenedetto, Grass Valley, Calif., Toyota, 54, $5,000.
6. (7) Steve Park, East Northport, N.Y., Chevrolet, 54, $3,000.
7. (11) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass., Chevrolet, 54, $2,800.
8. (8) Alex Kennedy, Aztec, N.M., Chevrolet, 54, $3,150.
9. (14) Brian Wong, Newport Beach, Calif., Toyota, 54, $1,900.
10. (12) Jonathan Smith, Beacon Falls, Conn., Chevrolet, 54, $2,360.
11. (13) Dustin Delaney, Mayfield, N.Y., Chevrolet, 54, $2,330.
12. (10) Jason Holehouse, Toronto, Ontario, Toyota, 54, $1,800.
13. (17) Sonny Whelen, Old Saybrook, Conn., Chevrolet, 54, $1,775.
14. (16) Jody Lavender, Hartsville, S.C., Ford, 53, $2,250.
15. (20) John Salemi, Nashua, N.H., Chevrolet, 49, $1,725.
16. (9) Eric Curran, Springfield, Mass., Chevrolet, 48, engine, $1,700.
17. (19) Matt Kurzejewski, Mansfield, Pa., Dodge, 39, accident, $2,185.
18. (18) Jason Patison, Corona, Calif., Chevrolet, 35, transmission, $2,170.
19. (15) Ryan Duff, Hazard, KY., Chevrolet, 20, engine, $2,160.
20. (2) Antonio Perez, Guadalajara, Mexico, Dodge, 13, engine, $2,150.
21. (21) Tiffany Daniels, Smithfield, Va., Dodge, 5, engine, $1,640.
Time of Race: 2 hours 7 minutes 55 seconds
Margin of Victory: .239 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: M. DiBenedetto (118.773 mph, 74.259 seconds)
Caution Flags: 8 for 20 laps.
Lead Changes: 3 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: M. DiBenedetto 1-15; E. Curran 16-21; P. Long 22-53; R. Truex 54.
Standings: 1. B. Moffitt, 764; 2. J. Lavender, 746; 3. M. Kobyluck, 727; 4. E. MacDonald, 723; 5. R. Truex, 697; 6. D. Delaney, 660; 7. S. Park, 650; 8. A. Kennedy, 628; 9. J. Patison, 602; 10. R. Duff, 596.