Truex Jr. wins NASCAR Chase opener

Truex Jr. opens the Chase for the Sprint Cup in style

Truex Jr. opens the Chase for the Sprint Cup in style

Martin Truex Jr. has scored victory in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup after winning the race off pit road and then the re-start in an overtime finish at Chicagoland Speedway.

It was his third win of the season and importantly guarantees that he will progress to the next phase of NASCAR’s version of the playoffs.

The race looked to be in the hands of young sensation Chase Elliott, but just a handful of laps from the finish a caution was called after Michael McDowell had a tyre explode scattering debris all over the track.

Truex’s crew were better when it counted on the pit road as he was serviced with four fresh tyres to re-start ahead of Elliott.

With a number of cars trying to hold-on with older rubber, Truex vaulted around them and passed Ryan Blaney for the lead with a lap remaining.

Joey Logano finished second ahead of Elliott, Blaney and Brad Keselowski.

Truex had to come back from an early puncture when he lost the lead lap. He gained the “Lucky Dog” soon after and made his way back to the front. He had been taking time out of the lead of Elliott when the final caution was called.

“There was a long way to go at that point,” Truex said. “On one hand it was the bad luck’s going to bite us again and on the other we’ve got a lot of time to make it up. We’re lucky it happened early and we were able to have an awesome race car all day.”

Chase drivers Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson had a tough day after both started off the rear for modifications to their cars after qualifying. Harvick quickly worked his way into the top 10, but went a lap down when he came in for a green-flag pit stop when a caution came out. From that point he could not catch a break and he finished 20th.

Larson had a tyre issue late which also took him out of any contention and he finished 18th.

The 270-lap race tied the track-low with four cautions and featured nine different leaders. Jimmie Johnson led all drivers with 118 laps led. Johnson was slapped with a penalty for speeding on pit road late in the race, that pushed him back to a 12th-place finish.

As much as the focus was on who won, attention was also on the points battle with Chase driver Austin Dillon, Harvick, Larson and Chris Buescher sitting in the bottom four positions.

16 drivers will become 12 after Dover in two weeks’ time, in-between is the race at New Hampshire.

UPDATE
Both cars from race winner Truex and Johnson failed a post-race technical inspection. NASCAR will later this week hand down penalties, but it has been confirmed that the infraction is a low breach. Truex will keep the race win, including his advancement to the next stage of the Chase, but a financial and points penalty is expected.

VIDEO: Race wrap

RESULTS: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 – Chicagoland Speedway

POS. CAR # DRIVER MAKE START LAPS LAPS LED FINAL STATUS POINTS BONUS POINTS
1 78 Martin Truex Jr Toyota 6 270 32 Running 44 4
2 22 Joey Logano Ford 9 270 1 Running 40 1
3 24 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 14 270 75 Running 39 1
4 21 Ryan Blaney Ford 22 270 8 Running 38 1
5 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 2 270 7 Running 37 1
6 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 3 270 2 Running 36 1
7 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 19 270 0 Running 34 0
8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 1 270 21 Running 34 1
9 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 7 270 0 Running 32 0
10 88 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 17 270 6 Running 0 0
11 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 16 270 0 Running 30 0
12 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 8 270 118 Running 31 2
13 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 12 270 0 Running 28 0
14 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 15 270 0 Running 27 0
15 19 Carl Edwards Toyota 5 270 0 Running 26 0
16 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 11 270 0 Running 25 0
17 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 21 270 0 Running 24 0
18 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 10 269 0 Running 23 0
19 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 18 269 0 Running 22 0
20 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 4 269 0 Running 21 0
21 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 26 269 0 Running 20 0
22 15 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 28 269 0 Running 19 0
23 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 20 269 0 Running 18 0
24 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 25 269 0 Running 17 0
25 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 23 268 0 Running 16 0
26 16 Greg Biffle Ford 24 268 0 Running 15 0
27 7 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 33 268 0 Running 0 0
28 34 Chris Buescher Ford 13 268 0 Running 13 0
29 38 Landon Cassill Ford 31 267 0 Running 12 0
30 83 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 35 267 0 Running 11 0
31 44 Brian Scott Ford 34 266 0 Running 10 0
32 43 Aric Almirola Ford 27 266 0 Running 9 0
33 46 Michael Annett Chevrolet 37 265 0 Running 8 0
34 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet 29 265 0 Running 7 0
35 23 David Ragan Toyota 32 265 0 Running 6 0
36 98 Cole Whitt Chevrolet 36 263 0 Running 5 0
37 95 Michael McDowell Chevrolet 30 262 0 Running 4 0
38 30 Josh Wise Chevrolet 40 260 0 Running 3 0
39 55 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 39 257 0 Running 2 0
40 32 Joey Gase Ford 38 254 0 Running 0 0

 

STANDINGS

POS DRIVER POINTS BEHIND STARTS WINS TOP 5 TOP 10 DNF
1 Martin Truex Jr 2050 Leader 27 3 6 13 1
2 Brad Keselowski 2049 –1 27 4 13 18 0
3 Kyle Busch 2046 –4 27 4 11 17 5
4 Denny Hamlin 2045 –5 27 3 10 16 3
5 Joey Logano 2043 –7 27 1 11 19 3
6 Chase Elliott 2039 –11 27 0 8 14 1
7 Matt Kenseth 2038 –12 27 2 4 12 4
8 Jimmie Johnson 2037 –13 27 2 7 10 4
9 Carl Edwards 2032 –18 27 2 7 15 5
10 Kurt Busch 2031 –19 27 1 6 17 2
11 Jamie McMurray 2030 –20 27 0 1 9 1
12 Tony Stewart 2028 –22 19 1 5 7 4
13 Austin Dillon 2027 –23 27 0 4 10 1
14 Kevin Harvick 2027 –23 27 2 13 21 2
15 Kyle Larson 2026 –24 27 1 7 10 2
16 Chris Buescher 2016 –34 27 1 2 2 4
17 Kasey Kahne 667 –1383 27 0 2 9 1
18 Ryan Newman 655 –1395 27 0 1 8 2
19 Ryan Blaney 613 –1437 27 0 3 8 2
20 AJ Allmendinger 607 –1443 27 0 2 5 3
21 Trevor Bayne 604 –1446 27 0 2 5 1
22 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 590 –1460 27 0 3 5 3
23 Greg Biffle 510 –1540 27 0 1 3 6
24 Danica Patrick 510 –1540 27 0 0 0 3
25 Paul Menard 500 –1550 27 0 0 2 5
26 Clint Bowyer 465 –1585 27 0 0 3 2
27 Aric Almirola 464 –1586 27 0 0 0 5
28 Dale Earnhardt Jr 461 –1589 18 0 5 6 4
29 Casey Mears 437 –1613 27 0 0 0 0
30 Landon Cassill 385 –1665 27 0 0 0 1
31 David Ragan 360 –1690 27 0 0 0 5
32 Regan Smith 343 –1707 26 0 1 2 5
33 Michael McDowell 335 –1715 23 0 0 1 2
34 Brian Scott 322 –1728 27 0 0 0 5
35 Matt DiBenedetto 273 –1777 27 0 0 1 9
36 Cole Whitt 248 –1802 23 0 0 0 5
37 Michael Annett 241 –1809 26 0 0 0 3
38 Jeff Gordon 151 –1899 6 0 0 0 0
39 Josh Wise 149 –1901 23 0 0 0 5
40 Reed Sorenson 140 –1910 19 0 0 0 4
41 Jeffrey Earnhardt 95 –1955 14 0 0 0 2
42 Brian Vickers 86 –1964 5 0 0 1 1
43 Bobby Labonte 51 –1999 3 0 0 0 0
44 David Gilliland 46 –2004 2 0 0 0 0
45 Michael Waltrip 42 –2008 2 0 0 0 0
46 Boris Said 17 –2033 1 0 0 0 0
47 Patrick Carpentier 11 –2039 2 0 0 0 0
48 Eddie MacDonald 5 –2045 1 0 0 0 0
49 Alex Kennedy 5 –2045 1 0 0 0 1
50 Robert Richardson 3 –2047 1 0 0 0 1
51 Alex Bowman 0 –2050 3 0 0 1 0
52 Ty Dillon 0 –2050 9 0 0 0 0
53 Dylan Lupton 0 –2050 2 0 0 0 0
54 Jeb Burton 0 –2050 2 0 0 0 0
55 Joey Gase 0 –2050 4 0 0 0 0
56 Ryan Ellis 0 –2050 3 0 0 0 0
57 Justin Allgaier 0 –2050 1 0 0 0 1
58 Cody Ware 0 –2050 0 0 0 0 0

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