The NASCAR XFINITY Series put on a thrilling show on Saturday at Watkins Glen. The race started in the dry and finished there, but for 10+ laps in the middle, rain fell on the upstate New York road course.
In the end, we were treated to another thrilling show. Here are the top five takeaways.
Its not too often that we see NASCAR racing in the rain, but on Saturday, that’s exactly what we saw. It was the perfect amount in my opinion too. While full on rain races are fun to watch, so are ones that interrupt the race just long enough to throw a wrench into things.
After Matt Tifft and Justin Haley crashed in the esses on Lap 24, rain began to fall on the track. It was enough to soak the track and force cars to hit pit road for the new Goodyear rain tires. We’d see a few laps run in the rain before it ended while we were under a red flag for Vinnie Miller’s crash in Turn 1.
That opened up a new strategy. While under the red flag period, the track was drying quickly. But, there were only five laps left in the second stage. Do you pit to go back on slicks and forego stage points or ride it out and use the last pit stop to go back on the normal Goodyear tires?
Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano timed it right and it helped them dramatically.
Pit Stop Woes
We already knew that pit stops were going to be different in 2018 due to some new rule changes. But, for the first time of the year, the pit crews were pitting on the opposite side of the car first. That led to a whole host of problems on pit road.
AJ Allmendinger saw his race ruined when he pit outside of his box. He’d be the best car in the rain but that penalty cost him a lap. Justin Allgaier, Austin Dillon, Aric Almirola and a whole host of others have problems on pit road on Saturday.
For the fifth straight year, Team Penske earned the pole at Watkins Glen. Joey Logano earned his fourth consecutive pole in XFINITY Series competition at the Glen while his teammate Brad Keselowski rolled off second. The duo combined to lead all but 25 laps in another win.
It was their third win over the last four years, all coming via Logano.
But, if not for Keselowski’s spin with three laps to go, Penske was going to finish 1-2.
Cup Drivers Dominate
For the 10th straight year, a Cup driver has won the Zippo 200. That’s not shocking as Joey Logano has been among the best drivers in XFINITY Series competition at Watkins Glen. This was his third win of his career there, all coming over the last four years, as he also earned his fourth straight pole on Saturday too.
It wasn’t just him to dominate.
AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola also finished in the top five and Keselowski should have too. Combined, Cup drivers led 68 of 92 laps on Saturday.
Bell/Allgaier Shine Again
While Christopher Bell’s three race win streak comes to an end, he still brought his No. 20 Toyota home inside of the top 10. His ninth place run was his fifth straight top 10 result and sixth in the last seven races.
Justin Allgaier came home third in his No. 7 Chevrolet for his eighth straight top 10 himself. As we sit here today, these are the top two drivers right now in the series.