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Truex Jr. Wins Chase Opener In Overtime

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 18 2016
Martin Truex Jr. kicked off the 2016 Chase with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

Martin Truex Jr. kicked off the 2016 Chase with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

Martin Truex Jr. survived an early race tire problem that knocked him off the lead lap, got a great pit stop from his crew late in the race and went on to get the victory Sunday in the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoffs.

sprint-logo-08The win, his third of the season, gives Truex and his Colorado-based, single-car Furniture Row Racing team an automatic berth in the second round of the cut-down-format Chase, which begins in three weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Man, this feels good,” Truex said in Victory Lane. “I’m a lucky guy to get to driver this black (car number) 78.

“What can I say, man? This is the way we wanted to start this (the 16-driver, 10-race playoff) off. It’s awesome.”

Truex’s car failed post-race inspection after he took the checkered flag in Sunday’s Chase-opening Sprint Cup Series race at Chicago. NASCAR had announced that it would take the win away from cars that had serious post-race laser inspection failures, but said Sunday that the failure by Truex’s team wasn’t severe enough to endanger his win.

Joey Logano of Team Penske finished second.

Finishing a heartbreaking third was rookie Chase Elliott who appeared to have the race all but won when a caution flag with four laps to go sent the race to overtime.

“I expect it,” Elliott, who led 75 laps, said when asked his reaction to the late caution. “Nothing’s yours until its over. It’s part of life, man. We know these races don’t go green that long. It’s just part of it. You just have to embrace it and move forward.”

Non-Chase driver Ryan Blaney of Wood Brothers Racing finished fourth and Brad Keselowski was fifth.

Kyle Busch, who started on the pole, led the first 21 laps. But on Lap 22, he was passed by Truex Jr.

Truex was in the lead when green flag pit stops began on about Lap 49 and that shook up the field. Taking the lead for the restart was Jimmie Johnson. Next to him on the front row was Alex Bowman, who was filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorports car.

Truex worked his way back up to second, but on Lap 82, he had to head into the pits under green because of a tire problem. He fell a lap off the pace where he joined Kevin Harvick who was caught up in the Lap 49 caution bad luck.

Asked what he thought about after going the lap down, Truex said, “Don’t give up. Just keep digging. There was a long way to go at that point. On the one hand I was like, ‘Ah, the bad luck is going to bite us again.’ On the other, it was like we got a lot of time to make it up.”

On Lap 102, green flag stops began. Johnson came in on Lap 104 and after the pitting cycled through, he was back in the lead and 4 seconds ahead of second-place Elliott.

Matt Kenseth became another Chaser who ran into trouble when he was busted for speeding during yellow flag stops on Lap 120.

During green flag stops about 100 laps from the end, Kyle Busch was hit with a speeding penalty.  After the pitting cycle through, Johnson, who had led 118 laps, was passed for the lead by Elliott for the lead.

One in the lead, Elliott built a multi-second lead – a lead that was eliminated by a caution for debris on Lap 191. Elliott had a good restart out of the caution and kept his lead over Johnson.

With 32 laps to go, Johnson headed into the pits for his final green flag stop. But a speeding penalty ended his shot at victory.

Johnson said of the penalty, “I’m making adjustments and I was dumbfounded that happened.  You can’t argue it.  Maybe a mistake on our part somewhere, definitely a mistake on my side, but I by no way shape or form thought that I was speeding.  I was probably the slowest down pit road all day just to try to avoid it and got nailed.”

When the green flag stops had cycled through, Elliott had a lead of over 2 seconds over second-place Truex.

With four laps to go, the caution flag waved for the fourth time to set up the overtime finish. Truex beat Elliott out of the pits but had to restart fourth as Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Chaser Carl Edwards opted not to pit.

Truex had a great restart and quickly moved to the lead. Once out front he sprinted away to get the victory.

Of the final, decisive restart, Truex said, “The 21 (Blaney) had old tires, the 5 (Kahne) was spinning his tires a little bit in the middle of the line and that was perfect timing – I hit the timing right and getting to the start-finish line and you don’t pull out before the line or you get penalized, so I had to wait until the very last second. I could have missed his bumper by an inch or two and just timed it and got outside of him and was able to run the top of turns one and two and was wide open on those new tires and got a run. He was on old tires and trying to hold onto a good finish and we had fresh ones and we were digging.”

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400
Chicagoland Speedway
Joliet, Illinois
Sunday, September 18, 2016

1. (6) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 270.
2. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 270.
3. (14) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 270.
4. (22) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 270.
5. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 270.
6. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 270.
7. (19) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 270.
8. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 270.
9. (7) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 270.
10. (17) Alex Bowman(i), Chevrolet, 270.
11. (16) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 270.
12. (8) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 270.
13. (12) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 270.
14. (15) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 270.
15. (5) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 270.
16. (11) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 270.
17. (21) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 270.
18. (10) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 269.
19. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 269.
20. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 269.
21. (26) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 269.
22. (28) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 269.
23. (20) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 269.
24. (25) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 269.
25. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 268.
26. (24) Greg Biffle, Ford, 268.
27. (33) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 268.
28. (13) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 268.
29. (31) Landon Cassill, Ford, 267.
30. (35) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 267.
31. (34) Brian Scott #, Ford, 266.
32. (27) Aric Almirola, Ford, 266.
33. (37) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 265.
34. (29) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 265.
35. (32) David Ragan, Toyota, 265.
36. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 263.
37. (30) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 262.
38. (40) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 260.
39. (39) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 257.
40. (38) Joey Gase(i), Ford, 254.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  145.161 mph.
Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 47 Mins, 24 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.776 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  4 for 22 laps.
Lead Changes:  17 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   Kyle Busch 1-21; M. Truex Jr 22-51; B. Keselowski 52; J. Johnson 53-102; B. Keselowski 103-105; J. Johnson 106-120; C. Elliott # 121; J. Johnson 122-170; B. Keselowski 171-173; J. Johnson 174-177; C. Elliott # 178-234; D. Hamlin 235-236; J. Logano 237; R. Blaney # 238-242; A. Bowman(i) 243-248; C. Elliott # 249-265; R. Blaney # 266-268; M. Truex Jr 269-270.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  J. Johnson 4 times for 118 laps; C. Elliott # 3 times for 75 laps; M. Truex Jr 2 times for 32 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 21 laps; R. Blaney # 2 times for 8 laps; B. Keselowski 3 times for 7 laps; A. Bowman(i) 1 time for 6 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 2 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 16 in Points: M. Truex Jr – 2,050; B. Keselowski – 2,049; Kyle Busch – 2,046; D. Hamlin – 2,045; J. Logano – 2,043; C. Elliott # – 2,039; M. Kenseth – 2,038; J. Johnson – 2,037; C. Edwards – 2,032; Kurt Busch – 2,031; J. Mcmurray – 2,030; T. Stewart – 2,028; A. Dillon – 2,027; K. Harvick – 2,027; K. Larson – 2,026; C. Buescher # – 2,016.

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POST-RACE CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS (Top 16):

  1. Martin Truex Jr., (Toyota) – 2050
  2. Brad Keselowski (Ford) – 2049
  3. Kyle Busch (Toyota) – 2046
  4. Denny Hamlin (Toyota) – 2045
  5. Joey Logano (Ford) – 2043
  6. Chase Elliott (Chevrolet) – 2039
  7. Matt Kenseth (Toyota) – 2038
  8. Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet) – 2037
  9. Carl Edwards (Toyota) – 2032
  10. Kurt Busch (Chevrolet) – 2031
  11. Jamie McMurray (Chevrolet) – 2030
  12. Tony Stewart (Chevrolet) – 2028
  13.   Austin Dillon (Chevrolet) – 2027
  14.   Kevin Harvick (Chevrolet) – 2027
  15.   Kyle Larson (Chevrolet) – 2026
  16.   Chris Buescher (Ford) – 2016

 

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 18 2016
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