RELATED: Watkins Glen results " Watch the dramatic end unfold WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. – Defending series champion Kevin Harvick said he thought he'd "done a pretty good job of saving fuel" under one of the five caution flags that slowed Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen . According to crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick was correct. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver ran out of fuel with the checkered flag almost in sight in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Watkins Glen International. He was unable to hold off the fast-closing race winner Joey Logano , and Kyle Busch motored past under power as well before Harvick coasted across the finish line to claim third place in the series' 22nd of 36 events. "I was just running as fast as I needed to, to protect the lead there as I was in front of the 20 (of Matt Kenseth )," Harvick said after his 15th top-five finish of the season and his 19th top-10. Once the Team Penske Ford of Logano began closing, however, "I had to pick up the pace just a little bit," he said. "But all in all, our ... team did a great job today and we were in position to have a win; two corners away. But that's just kind of how the middle of this season has gone. We've had really fast cars but the circumstances have just gotten the best of us. "So, hopefully we're saving that up for the last 10 weeks." Harvick, who started fourth, was able to move past Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) on the 61st circuit of the 90-lap event, shortly after the day's fifth caution flag appeared. He remained on point for the next 29 laps. But with no additional cautions appearing, and his last trip to pit road having come several laps earlier, Harvick's crew knew their driver's chances were questionable. According to the team's calculations, Harvick's fuel cell was expected to hit empty with approximately one-half of a lap left on the 2.45-mile road course located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. "We were fortunate we were able to keep it running at least and get it all the way back around," Childers said. "...I'm still surprised we made it that far, though. We pitted with 40 to go and before the race we thought we could go 32 laps so we went eight more than we thought we could. Caution laps helped." Harvick already has secured one of the 16 positions in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup field. He's a two-time winner this season (Las Vegas and Phoenix) and has been the series' points leader for 20 consecutive weeks. "You hate to give up any points," said Childers, "But on the other hand, it just got to the point halfway through the race where we were like 'Are we going to win it doing what we're doing?' No. 'Do we have a good enough car to win?' Yes. "So we need to try to do something different. So we did ... and it almost worked out. It just wasn't enough." WATCH: Weekend Top Five moments from Watkins Glen There may be disappointment at coming so close, but Sunday's effort confirms the strength of No. 4 team heading toward the Chase, which gets underway in September. "It tells me I have the best team on pit road," Harvick said. "Our cars are faster than pretty much everybody else's every week. " The circumstances have definitely bit us quite a few times. But all in all, if you have the fastest car and you keep running in the top five and leading laps, eventually you're going to wear them down." Childers agreed with that assessment. "I feel real good about everything," he said. "Every week when we show up at the race track I still feel like we've got the best team every week and the fastest car every week. The guys on pit road have just done a tremendous job all year, very consistent. I feel like we're going to be where we need to be. "We learned a lot last year. If everybody thinks we were strong last year, they're going to be in for it (this year)."
MORE: Gordon lends his voice for Disney project " Watkins Glen results Jeff Gordon had mechanical issues early on at Watkins Glen during the Cheez-It 355 . Sunday's race was one of his best chances to lock up a Chase berth, given his road course prowess (4 wins, 4 poles and 9 top 10s in 22 starts at Watkins Glen ; he also has five wins at Sonoma, the series' other road course), Gordon was set back thanks to early brake problems. While on pit road, the four-time champion received a new brake line on the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and re-entered the race on Lap 33, scored in 43rd place and four laps down. Gordon entered Sunday's race in 10th place in the driver points standings. He finished the race in 41st place and lost two spots in the standings, falling to 12th place, 203 points behind leader Kevin Harvick .
RELATED: Learn more about Watkins Glen " Course breakdown by turn WATKINS GLEN , N.Y. – Now that Watkins Glen has started repaving its racing surface, running " the Boot" may be back on the table for NASCAR races. The current configuration of the Glen for NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races eliminates the Boot, which contains Turns 6 through 9, and shortens the course from 3.40 miles to 2.45 miles. But with repaving already having taken place in the Boot, smoothing the bumps in that portion of the track, NASCAR is considering running the full Grand Prix Course, which currently is used for the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. "We could," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell told the NASCAR Wire Service before Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen . "We're discussing it with the track. It's something we're looking at down the road." Even with the addition of the Boot, Watkins Glen wouldn't be the longest road course on the NASCAR rotation. Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which hosts the XFINITY Series, measures 4.048 miles.
In this week's Race Center, NASCAR.com writer Holly Cain fills you in on all the action from this weekend at Watkins Glen and give hers pick for the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen .
Recall all the twists and turns that accompanied a thrilling finish at Watkins Glen .
RELATED: Race results from Canada " Updated series standings BOWMANVILLE, Ontario - Two weeks ago in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , Alex Tagliani got turned out of the lead by Regan Smith and lost his shot at a win. Today in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park , Tagliani had a chance to be the one doing the turning. Heading into Turn 5B on the final lap, Tagliani says he was in a position to push Erik Jones aside and claim victory for himself. But he didn't. Instead, Tagliani held back as Jones cruised to his second win of the season and vaulted to the top of the NCWTS point standings. "If I would have stayed where I was he would have been gone in (Turn) 5B," Tagliani said. "I don't drive that way. I just want to continue the trend." Tagliani thought he would have time to take one more clean shot at Jones through the final series of turns, but a broken third gear took that chance away. "It shredded completely," he said. "It was pretty much good all race. I felt a couple of times it was kind of scratchy on the downshift, but no sign it was going to be bad. As soon as I put third gear on the back straight, it just went. "I put it in fourth and it just kind of limped all the way back home." The 19-year-old Jones felt the pressure from veteran road course racer Tagliani down the stretch, but maintained his concentration to become the first driver to lead the entire last lap of a NCWTS race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . "It was a blast," Jones said of the race. "It was nerve-wracking. It's a little intense when you’ve got a guy like that running you down for 15 laps." It turned out that Jones and Tagliani had shared a parade truck before the race and had a philosophical discussion about racing with respect. Tagliani told Jones he knew he was in a heated points battle and that Jones didn’t have to worry about him trying the same thing Smith had done to him at Mid-Ohio. "We had a pretty long talk about racing people the way you want to be raced," Jones said. "I’ve never been one to want to move somebody to win a race, and he hasn't, either. It's nice to see that respect, especially from a veteran like that to me. "It's not something he had to do. It means a lot to me that he did." Jones worked hard to improve his road course craft coming into this weekend. Time spent at a pair of driving schools paid off, as did a strong effort by the team to improve their truck. "We had a good truck last year, and we were able to do some improving on our Tundra to get it to where it needed to be for this year," Jones said. "I was able to improve on myself and fix some of my mistakes this year as well and get a little bit better." Matt Crafton finished in second place, which keeps him second in the point standings behind Jones, who now holds a three-point advantage. Tyler Reddick , the standings leader entering the race, placed 19th and is now third (15 points behind Jones) in the championship hunt. Ben Kennedy , Daniel Hemric , and Tagliani rounded out the top five in Sunday's race. Cole Custer mounted one of the strongest challenges to Jones in the late going, but contact between he and Tagliani took him out of the running with 11 laps to go. He ended up in 10th.
RELATED: Complete race results " Updated standings ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- The decision to compete in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR XFINITY Series sixth annual Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America (Wisconsin) paid off in a huge way for Paul Menard , who scored his third career XFINITY victory at his hometown track. Menard, a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, started eighth and saw a decision to stay out after pitting on Lap 24 work to his advantage as he edged out a relentless Ryan Blaney by 0.573 seconds at the 14-turn road course. After the contest, Menard said had the race extended a lap farther, he would not have collected his first XFINITY win since Michigan International Speedway last June. "I've been really fortunate to win at some of the coolest tracks, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Road America is right there," Menard said. "These guys called a great race. We didn't have the fastest car. We had a really good short run car. We really burned off the rear tires as we ran, but the Richmond Water Heaters/Menards Chevrolet was fast and (crew chief Danny) Stockman made a hell of a call at the end." If wondering about running out of fuel wasn't enough, Menard also had to fend off a hard-charging Blaney. "I was definitely concerned," added Menard on both circumstances. "I was saving as much as I could under caution, but then when we fired off I was just chattering the left rear tire really bad. It took a couple of laps for it to come in, then the (No.) 22 started burning his stuff up, but it just didn't fire off very good in the end, but it came to us." After inclement weather forced the cancellation of Coors Light Pole qualifying, Ben Rhodes earned the top starting spot based upon turning the fastest lap at the 4.048-mile road course in the first XFINITY Series practice session Friday afternoon. Rhodes, a NASCAR Next alum, would find himself under pressure from the drop of the green flag when JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott made the move for the lead in Turn 1. Quickly, though, the field would be under the first full-course caution of the day when Tomy Drissi found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 5. Racing resumed on Lap 4 with Elliott checking out from the field and before the first round of green-flag pit stops. The reigning champion stretched his lead to over 10 seconds, when he relinquished the top spot on Lap 11 for a routine pit stop. Championship contender Ty Dillon inherited the lead when Elliott pitted. Dillon, who finished 10th, stretched his fuel run an extra lap to earn a crucial bonus point toward the championship picture. When pit stops cycled through, Elliott reclaimed the point on Lap 16 and built a 13.7-second lead over second-place Brian Scott at the halfway mark. On Lap 22, the second caution waved for fluid on the track, erasing Elliott's substantial advantage. Despite half of the field electing to come to pit road for service behind them, Elliott and his JRM team stood firm on their plan and stayed out. On the restart, Elliott withstood a challenge for Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney , but in Turn 14 and through the frontstretch, Scott mounted the pressure and made the move on Elliott to take the lead on Lap 27. Unable to make it to the end on fuel, Scott pitted under green on Lap 29 handing the lead to defending race winner Brendan Gaughan . Three laps later, though, Gaughan pitted, handing the lead to hometown hero Paul Menard who pitted during the second caution with 13 laps remaining. Planning to stay out till the end, Menard in saving mode purposely gave up the lead to Blake Koch ,who led with 10 laps remaining when pole-sitter Rhodes found himself stuck in the gravel trap in Turn 7 issuing the third full course caution. During the extended caution, Koch lost power, putting Menard back at the point. On the Lap 41 restart, Menard withstood challenges from Darrell Wallace Jr . and Blaney to seal the win in his 197th career start. Next up for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is a trip to the track dubbed "Too Tough To Tame" at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 on Sept. 5 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
RELATED: Full lineup for Sunday's race Wheeling the No. 29 BK Racing Ford at 110.539 mph in a second-lap attempt, road course veteran Alex Tagliani earned the Keystone Light Pole Award at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Saturday's two-round qualifying session. The Quebec native and road course veteran shattered the previous track record with a 80.084-second lap around the track. This marks Tagliani's first Camping World Truck Series start of 2015 and his second consecutive pole win in this event. Tagliani's late run took the top spot away from Erik Jones , who settled for second with a fastest lap of 110.492 mph in his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. Reigning series champion Matt Crafton (110.113 mph), BKR's Tyler Reddick (110.002 mph) and JR Motorsports' Cole Custer (109.777 mph) rounded out the top five. Reddick led the first round, propelling his No. 19 Ford at 110.276 mph, while teammate Tagliani drafted with him. Robert Mitten brought out the red flag in the first round of qualifying when he smacked the tire wall off Turn 8, leaving his No. 53 Dodge nearly vertical. Mitten climbed out unharmed and ultimately secured a 22nd-place starting position. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is back on track Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET for the Chevrolet Silverado 250 (FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM).