WATKINS GLEN —  Watkins Glen International has been on Martin Truex Jr.’s mind for a long time. Sunday, he used his head to compliment a fast Toyota to win the I Love New York 355 at The Glen.

The son of a career Busch North/K&N Pro Series East racer, Truex has been coming to The Glen since childhood and has been a strong contender to win since joining Furniture Row Racing in 2014. Each year, opportunities slipped out of his grasp until Sunday when everything fell his way to claim his 11th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory and fourth this season.

“I’ve been wanting to win here a long time, been coming here a long time. Started coming here before driving anything but go-karts,” a beaming Truex said after the race. “Definitely feels really special to win here.”

Starting third, Truex - who grew up in Mayetta, N.J. and made his name in the Busch North Series at tracks like The Glen - quickly settled in and picked his spots, never put a wheel off course and ran a patient stint in the first stage. That stage was really defined by Kyle Busch, who was the class of the field. An absolute bullet. Untouchable.

The Glen rarely rewards the fastest car in NASCAR’s premier series. Ask Kurt Busch after the 2006 race here, or Marcos Ambrose in 2013.

On Busch’s first pit stop, a lug nut got jammed in a brake caliper which sent the two-time Glen winner deep in the field - allowing some new names to bubble up to the front. Busch’s teammates Daniel Suarez and Matt Kenseth ushered in a two-stop pit strategy which jumbled the field for the second and third stages.

While Busch was trying to fight back to the front, Truex and Suarez fought for the second stage “win.”

The Mexican, who was quick, but not nearly as fast as Truex, threw some wicked blocks on the final lap of stage 2 to secure his first stage “victory.”

Two of the fastest cars all weekend, Busch and rival Brad Keselowski, changed the complexion of the race on the 44th lap, shortly after the start of the third and final stage.

Taking the traditional entry into the chicane, Keselowski bounded off the curb and into Busch - who was attempting a pretty optimistic overtaking maneuver on the outside. The two series champions collided and spun off course. Neither was able to salvage the day after that, and it opened the door for someone else to fight for the win.

Stage breaks aside, there was only one actual caution flag in Sunday’s race. Seriously, one and that was for debris on the backstretch after a blown tire carcass was thrown onto the course. The Glen has had quite a reputation in recent years for wild, red-flag-inducing wrecks, but Sunday’s 90-lapper was quite tame. Dramatic at the end, for sure, but no big “Holy $#%&!” moments.

However, the timing of that yellow flag put a lot of crew chiefs in an uncomfortable position. They could either pit then and try to reach the remaining 40-plus laps on a tank of fuel, or play out their original plan, pit later and hope more cautions aided their agenda.

It forced everyone’s hands.

“We committed ourselves to a two-stop strategy and I was like, ‘Sure enough we’re going to have all this planned and we’re going to get a caution on lap 52.’ And we got a caution on lap 52,” said Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn.

The fuel mileage derby was on.

It made for an unspectacular second half of the race, but compelling nonetheless. Drivers were lifting off the throttle well before the braking zone markers, not getting back on the gas until the wheels were straight and crew chiefs were balls of angst. Lap after lap was spent going 70% or less. Truex went from first to third in a span of 10 laps, but it was all part of the plan.

“As slow as I was going, I thought I could have run 10 more laps. You’ve got to be kidding me, I’ve got to go even slower? It’s excruciating to go that slow here and to save that much fuel. Literally, I was barely using any brake at all at the highest braking race track we go to, if that tells you how much I was letting off the throttle early,” said the victor. “Watching (Keselowski) pass and go on and watching (Blaney) pass and go on, I was like, ‘Alright, if they don’t run out of gas, we’re going to look really dumb.’ Fortunately it worked out for us.”

Keselowski and Ryan Blaney each inherited the lead in the final 10 laps, only to relinquish it shortly thereafter. In the end, it came down to Truex and Matt Kenseth - who had enough gas left to give Truex a good run on the back portion of the 2.45-mile road course.

The 2004 series champ caught Truex going into the chicane, stayed with him through the carousel and the short chute and into turn 10 where Truex slid up on the curbing. Still, Kenseth couldn’t get the nose of his Toyota near him and settled for second place.

“It’s disappointing not to get it, but man I thought we had a shot in (turn 10),” Kenseth said of Truex’s slide on the final lap. “But I wasn’t close enough to take advantage of it.”

Kenseth’s teammate Suarez settled for third.

“It’s very hard to finish third and you can see the leader right there,” said Suarez, who recorded his career-best finish. “But you’re just cruising around because you don’t know how much fuel you have.”

Joe Gibbs Racing had a good day from that perspective - finishing second (Kenseth), third (Suarez), fourth (Denny Hamlin) and seventh (Busch), while Clint Bowyer nursed his Ford to a fifth-place showing and Blaney ended up eighth.

Keselowski was a distant 15th.

The Glen was unkind to a pair of popular drivers who were making their final appearances in race cars here. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s farewell to Schuyler County saw him finish dead last with a broken valve in the engine and Boris Said, who made his last NASCAR appearance, placed 30th in a backup car.