Martin Truex Jr. had just enough fuel to notch his fourth win of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup season, narrowly finished ahead of Matt Kenseth at the I Love New York 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York.
Only 0.41 seconds separated Truex from Kenseth when he crossed the finish line.
NASCAR on NBC shared a replay of the final lap. It looked like the No. 78 car was on the verge of running out of gas as it began fishtailing just before the finish line:
Truex left enough in the tank to enjoy his post-race celebration:
Fuel conservation became the top priority for drivers near the top of the leaderboard late in the race. After Brad Keselowski jumped ahead of Truex Jr. to take the lead, NASCAR writer Jeff Gluck noted Keselowski's stay in first place was unlikely going to be a lengthy one:
For the drivers behind Keselowski, the calculus then became waiting for the right moment to make a move up the field. Time it too early, and the car could potentially run out of gas. Time it too late, and there may not be enough time to make up any noticeable ground.
NASCAR on NBC spoke for many of the fans watching at home:
With little other choice, Keselowski eventually pitted on the 87th lap to refuel, allowing Blaney to climb into first. One lap later, Blaney headed for pit road so as not to run out of fuel.
Truex Jr.'s gambit paid off but wasn't without plenty of drama.
"It's so stressful to just let guys go by for the lead," he said, per Performance Racing Network. "I've got so much trust in [crew chief Cole Pearn], he was telling me what to do."
Below are the top 10 finishers from the I Love New York 355 at The Glen:
I Love New York 355 at The Glen Leaderboard
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Daniel Suarez
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Kurt Busch
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ryan Blaney
9. AJ Allmendinger
10. Erik Jones
With the conclusion of Sunday's race, four more events remain before the playoffs begin Sept. 17 at the Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
Sunday's result could carry significant consequences regarding the playoffs. Truex had already earned his place in the top 16, and a fourth victory could be enough to secure him the top spot in the standings once the round of 16 begins.
Far bigger is Kenseth's inability to come out with the checkered flag. Whereas the win would've assured him of a playoff berth, he instead sits in 16th, with a 28-point lead on Clint Bowyer. Not only will Kenseth need that advantage to hold, he'll also need the likes of Bowyer, Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones to stay out of Victory Lane.
In the event he is on the outside looking in on the playoffs, Kenseth will likely look back upon the I Love New York 355 at The Glen as a missed opportunity.