While Kyle Busch was frustrated with a third-place finish Sunday at Watkins Glen, a result of a refueling issue on pit road, it was the leading performance in a strong day for Joe Gibbs Racing, which placed three cars in the top five.
Busch led teammates Daniel Suarez, who finished fourth, and Erik Jones, who placed fifth.
It’s the second year in a row JGR has placed three cars in the top five. Last years’ effort was led by Matt Kenseth (second), Suarez (third) and Denny Hamlin (fourth).
Busch, who leads the points, has finished in the top five in nine of the last 10 races.
Suarez was coming off a career-best second-place finish a week ago. After starting 21st, he placed 10th in Stage 2.
Sunday’s race marked the first time he’s earned consecutive top fives. He has top fives in both of his Cup starts at Watkins Glen.
“It was a decent race,” Suarez said. “I felt like we had a top-five, top-seven car or so. The car was good, but not extremely good. Definitely the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 20 (Erik Jones) were better, but it was a good race. Solid effort for my team. We’re getting close. This is what we need – to run top five every week and if we continue to do this, I’m going to be a happy boy.”
Jones, four races removed from earning his first Cup win, also earned a second consecutive top five and his fourth of the season.
He also placed fourth in Stage 2.
Jones’ top five came after competing in Friday’s K&N Pro Series East race at WGI.
“I think that helped,” Jones said. “A combination of things – having a little experience here and having a good Toyota Camry to get around here was the two things that you need. I don’t consider myself a road course racer and you know we’re working that way to get better on those things. I feel like I put in a lot of work on it. It’s rewarding when you can run well. That’s two top fives in a row for us. I’m wore out – a little out of breath. Just a hard day. You’re running here. You’re hustling as hard as you can and it takes a toll on you.”
The fourth JGR car, the No. 11 Toyota of Hamlin, placed 13th.
Hamlin started the day from his first pole of the season. His chances of winning vanished after a chaotic pit stop under the final caution that sent one pit crew member tumbling to the ground and resulted in Hamlin being penalized for removing equipment from his pit box.