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Truex Kicks Off Playoffs With Easy Win In Joliet

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 17 2017

Martin Truex Jr. takes a green slime shower in victory lane after winning at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

RacinToday.com

Martin Truex Jr. opened the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs survived early race adversity to win Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.

The victory was his fifth of the season for the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota and second straight at the 1.5-mile Joliet track and, it gives him a berth in the second round of the playoffs.

Then there was the fact that it came pretty darn easily after he came back from a speeding penalty 39 laps into the 267-lap race and finished 7.1 seconds ahead of Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports.

Asked if his victory was a statement, Truex moaned.

“I don’t care much about statements,” he said. “I just I’m just having fun. I’m proud of our pit crew for doing what they did and everyone on this team. It’s important to come here and not let the pressure get to you and I think we did a good job of that. Every time you go to victory lane, it’s special.”

Elliott led 42 laps as Playoff-eligible drivers swept the top six spots.

Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson completed the top five in the first of 10 races that will decide the series champion.

Several of the 16 championship-eligible drivers faced uphill battles because of early miscues.

In addition to his speeding penalty, Truex was forced to make an extra pit stop during the intermission after Stage 1 for his crew to tighten unsecured lug nuts.

Truex steadily chipped away at the deficit, taking the lead for the first time on Lap 190.

“I wouldn’t say it wasn’t going our way,” Truex said, “we just screwed up and I just made a mistake and left pit road .06 of a mile per hour too fast and got busted. Then just had to play catch-up, but our car was off a little bit that first half of the race as well and once we got back in traffic we really had to work on it. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) made some great adjustments and we just kept working on it all day long. Those last three runs it was dialed in man. Of course we got up front too.”

Polesitter Kyle Busch had early trouble came after he set a torrid pace from the drop of the green flag, leading 78 of the first 80 laps to win Stage 1. He had to make an unscheduled pit stop out of second place on Lap 94 for a loose right-rear wheel.

Busch’s problems were compounded when the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 crew was penalized for going over the wall too soon. The pair of mistakes knocked Busch to 29th place, two laps down in the running order. He rallied to finish 15th, trapped one lap down for the balance of the race.

Other Playoffs contenders weren’t immune to pitfalls, whether in the pits or on the track. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scraped the wall on Lap 26, then added a pair of pit-road penalties — one for his crew over the wall too soon and a late one for speeding. Jamie McMurray rallied back to finish 10th after a spin on the first green-flag lap of Stage 3. Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch were also included on the list of drivers serving penalties for speeding on pit road.

The series’ next event is scheduled for Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Round of 16, the opening three-race leg of the Playoffs, concludes Oct. 1 at Dover International Speedway.

(This story will be updated shortly)

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Tales of the Turtles 400

Chicagoland Speedway

Joliet, Illinois

Sunday, September 17, 2017

  1. (3) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 267.
  2. (8) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 267.
  3. (4) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 267.
  4. (2) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 267.
  5. (6) Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 267.
  6. (5) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 267.
  7. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.
  8. (14) Jimmie Johnson (P), Chevrolet, 267.
  9. (10) Matt Kenseth (P), Toyota, 267.
  10. (19) Jamie McMurray (P), Chevrolet, 267.
  11. (12) Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 267.
  12. (13) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 267.
  13. (11) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 266.
  14. (28) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 266.
  15. (1) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 266.
  16. (9) Austin Dillon (P), Chevrolet, 266.
  17. (20) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 266.
  18. (22) Danica Patrick, Ford, 265.
  19. (17) Kurt Busch (P), Ford, 265.
  20. (27) Landon Cassill, Ford, 265.
  21. (25) Kasey Kahne (P), Chevrolet, 264.
  22. (26) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 264.
  23. (16) Ryan Newman (P), Chevrolet, 264.
  24. (21) Aric Almirola, Ford, 264.
  25. (15) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (P), Ford, 263.
  26. (29) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 263.
  27. (18) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 263.
  28. (23) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 262.
  29. (31) David Ragan, Ford, 262.
  30. (30) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 262.
  31. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 261.
  32. (34) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 259.
  33. (24) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 259.
  34. (37) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 258.
  35. (35) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 257.
  36. (33) Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 256.
  37. (40) * Brett Moffitt(i), Toyota, 255.
  38. (36) * Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 254.
  39. (38) * Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 254.
  40. (39) * Ray Black II(i), Chevrolet, 251.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  145.401 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 45 Mins, 16 Secs. Margin of Victory:  7.179 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 21 laps.

Lead Changes:  12 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Kyle Busch (P) 1-44; L. Cassill 45-46; Kyle Busch (P) 47-87; K. Harvick (P) 88-122; B. Keselowski (P) 123; D. Hamlin (P) 124; C. Elliott (P) 125-162; K. Harvick (P) 163; C. Elliott (P) 164-167; K. Harvick (P) 168-189; M. Truex Jr. (P) 190-211; K. Harvick (P) 212; M. Truex Jr. (P) 213-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch (P) 2 times for 85 laps; M. Truex Jr. (P) 2 times for 77 laps; K. Harvick (P) 4 times for 59 laps; C. Elliott (P) 2 times for 42 laps; L. Cassill 1 time for 2 laps; B. Keselowski (P) 1 time for 1 lap; D. Hamlin (P) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,4,24,11,22,2,20,42,19,78

Stage #2 Top Ten: 24,4,78,42,2,11,22,41,20,1

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 17 2017
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