It wasn’t the typical clean race from Martin Truex Jr., but he still ended it in Victory Lane.
After speeding on pit road on lap 39 in Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 from Chicagoland Speedway, Truex drove back to the front to lead the event for the first time with 77 laps to go. From that point, he led the race of the way to score his fifth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of 2017.
“I’m so excited,” Truex said. “This is the playoffs. This is what it’s all about. I’m so proud of everyone. The car was amazing, we did what we always do.”
His second win in a row at Chicagoland once again punches his ticket to the Round of 12, which begins in three weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“This feels great, best feeling in the world,” he said. “Just winning races and doing it the way we’re doing it now. I’m glad we’re having success.”
The race played more in his favor when Kyle Busch made an off-sequence pit stop on lap 97. The issue was compounded when the crew, who were transferred from the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing car for the playoffs, jumped the wall too soon for the stop, prompting a drive-through penalty thereafter.
Despite the speed from the pole-sitter, Busch, who led the most laps of the day at 85, finished 15th, one lap down.
“Ah well, me move on to next week,” Busch said in short. “Move on.”
Chase Elliott was a benefit of Busch’s issue, too, as the Hendrick Motorsports driver grabbed the race lead for 42 circuits before finishing second.
For Elliott, a stage win and runner-up result were two big positives to the start of the playoffs.
“This is the time of the year to go,” Elliott said. “We made the most of what we could. Without some luck, I wasn’t going to beat the No. 78. We need to have more days like this.”
Kevin Harvick led 59 laps and fell to third while Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson completed the top five. Team Penske put both cars in the top 10 with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano while Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth followed them in eighth and ninth.
“We knew that not making mistakes would go a long way,” said Harvick, who led his most laps since Texas in the spring. “The No. 18 didn’t recover from his mistakes. You just had to execute. We finished right where we should’ve.”
Jamie McMurray spun his No. 1 Chevrolet on a lap-168 restart, suffering no damage. He rebounded for a 10th-place result.
Unfortunately for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the playoff driver had two pit road penalties drag him to a 25th-place finish, the lowest of the 16 playoff drivers.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 17, 2017
About the author
Growing up in Easton, Pa., Zach Catanzareti has grown his auto racing interest from fandom to professional. Joining Frontstretch in 2015, Zach enjoys nothing more than being at the track, having covered his first half-season of 18 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017. With experience behind the wheel, behind the camera and in the media center, he thrives on being an all-around reporter.
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