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Studs and Duds, Watkins Glen Edition

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Martin Truex Jr. played the fuel mileage game to perfection on Sunday to capture the I Love NY 355 at the Glen, his series-high fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season.

Like every NASCAR race, some drivers and teams came out way ahead and others had miserable weekends. So to recognize both, here’s the Watkins Glen edition of Studs and Duds.

STUD: Cole Pearn

Grieving enormously over the tragic and unexpected death of his best friend earlier in the week, Pearn perfectly orchestrated the fuel-mileage strategy that allowed race-winner Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota to make it to the finish line when others ran out of fuel.

STUD: Martin Truex Jr.

Truex has more race victories (4) and playoff points (34) than any other Cup driver. By himself, he has led more laps this season than all 11 drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.

DUD: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Nothing good happened to Earnhardt this weekend, as he completed just 22 laps before the engine let go in his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, leaving him 37th and last in the field. His car was slow and ill-handling all weekend long. 

STUD: Daniel Suarez

Third place was a career-best Cup finish for Suarez, who has finished seventh or better in each of the last four races. Clearly, his star is on the rise.

STUD: Clint Bowyer

Needing a good finish to stay in playoff contention, Bowyer scored a top five in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. He’s still on the outside, but he has a fighting chance to make it in.

DUD: Brad Keselowski

Although he led 20 laps and had a fast Team Penske Ford, Keselowski made two critical mistakes that left him 15th: He initiated contact with Kyle Busch that spun both drivers out midway through the race, and then went through too many pit boxes when he came in for a splash of fuel with three laps to go.

STUD: Matt Kenseth

A clutch runner-up finish hugely helped Kenseth’s playoff chances. Before Sunday’s race, the 2003 Cup champion had just one top five in 17 races at The Glen.

STUD: Chris Buescher

Two weeks ago, Buescher got his best finish of the season with a ninth-place run in the Brickyard 400. He followed that up with an excellent 11th-place finish at Watkins Glen.

DUD: Jimmie Johnson

For the third consecutive race, Johnson finished 27th or worse. The four Hendrick Motorsports drivers had a combined average finish at The Glen of 23.75. Not good.

STUD: Michael McDowell

Twelfth place was a solid effort for McDowell, who brought the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet home in the top 20 for the third consecutive race.

STUD: Toyota

For the second race in row, all six of the Toyota Camrys from Furniture Row Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing finished in the top 10. Toyotas swept the top four spots at The Glen and have now won four of the last five races.

DUD: Chevrolet

The only member of the Bow Tie Brigade to finish in the top 10 was AJ Allmendinger, who wound up ninth. It was not a good weekend for the Chevrolet contingent.

DUD: Joey Logano

Now 95 points out of the playoff cutline after finishing 24th at Watkins Glen, Logano can only make the playoffs with a victory in one of the next four races.

Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen is a veteran motorsports journalist. He spent 13 years with, where he was Digital Content Manager. Previously, he was executive editor of NASCAR Scene and managing editor of National Speed Sport News. Jensen served as the president of the National Motorsports Press Association and is the group’s former Writer of the Year.