the NASCAR Cup Series‘ August schedule continued in Watkins Glen, New York on Sunday, as Kyle Larson beat out 39 drivers representing seven countries — the most international drivers in a single race in Cup Series history — in a historic Go Bowling at The Glen.
The 90-lap road course, an annual fixture on the NASCAR schedule since 1986, marked the 25th race of the 2022 season and was the penultimate race before the 2022 NASCAR Playoffs, which are set to begin next month.
The group of international stars was headlined by former Formula One world champion Kimi Räikkönen of Finland. “The Iceman” — plus Germany’s Mike Rockenfeller, Russia’s Daniil KvyatHolland’s Loris Hezmans and England’s Kyle Tilly — joined the NASCAR regulars, 33 from the United States and Mexico’s Daniel Suarez.
Here are the top moments from Watkins Glen International:
Setting the stage
Things were delayed due in New York to inclement weather. Once the lightning hold was lifted, drivers took to the track, but NASCAR waved off the start after several drivers expressed concerns about visibility.
Cars were brought to pit road to allow crews to work on the track while drivers stayed in their vehicles.
Finally, things got underway at Watkins Glen with each team starting single file on rain tires. Chase Elliott won the pole and Larson started beside him.
Sunday’s race was made up of two 20-lap stages, followed by a 50-lap third and final stage.
AJ Allmendinger took a spin, thanks to Austin Cindric, while racing for fifth. They weren’t the only ones, however, as Corey LaJoie and Harrison Burton also went around in Turn One at the end of the first lap.
follow the leader
Things got heated when Michael McDowell made a power move to take the lead from Elliott.
Chase Briscoe took the lead on Lap 16 after four lead changes and being as far back as 33rd, but McDowell was hounding him for the lead. In the end, Briscoe held on to the lead as the first stage came to close.
Elsewhere, Elliott officially clinched the Cup Series regular-season championship with his solid performance in Stage 1, meaning he’ll be the top seed in the playoffs and earn 15 bonus playoff points.
As the second stage got underway and the track returned to normal, dry conditions, it was announced that all restarts would be double-file moving forward. Meanwhile, rookie Todd Gilliland emerged as the new leader.
Gilliland’s moment in the sun was short-lived, as he dropped off the pace with an apparent broken axle. That made room for some international drivers to creep up the leaderboard.
Déjà vu in Stage 2
It was Joey Logano who took the second stage, picking up a playoff point in the process.
Neck and neck
In the third stage, Elliott opened up a 1.2-second lead over McDowell, who was being challenged for a second by Larson.
Räikkönen’s Cup Series debut ended early, as he was involved in a big crash that sent him into the tire barrier near the halfway mark of the final stage after Austin Dillon spun on course and the field bunched up.
Räikkönen told reporters that he had “no time to react,” but that the race “was good fun.” I have finished 36th.
Kyle Busch spun between Turns 1 and 2, and suffered damage to the tie-rod on his car in that incident, but he managed to escape a caution flag after getting looped back around.
The caution came out when Joey Hand slid off course, spun out and crashed hard into the tire barrier.
Down to the wire
It was trouble for Hezemans, who spun and got stuck in the sand trap between Turns 10 and 11.
Just like that, the caution was back out with eight laps to go, while Elliott clung to the lead.
The final restart came with five laps to go. Larson took the lead with three laps left after being as far back as 30th. He won, followed by Allmendinger, Logano, Elliott and Suárez rounding out the top-five finishers.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism