Martin Truex Jr. Kicks Off The NASCAR Playoffs With A Win At Chicagolandby Sarah Sedwick September 17, 2017
JOLIET, Ill. – Martin Truex Jr. clenched his fifth win of the season during the Tale of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.
Truex claimed the first victory of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs; however, this win did not come without difficulty. The Furniture Row Racing team overcame a speeding penalty that was assessed on lap 42. Despite the adversity, Truex Jr. worked his way up the leaderboard, where he finished more than six seconds ahead of Chase Elliott, who took second place. Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota led the final 55 laps of the race en route to his 12th victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The win also marked his second at Chicagoland Speedway
“I can’t even tell you how much it means to me,” said Truex Jr. “I’m a much better driver because of (Sherry Pollex), and what she taught me. We’ve learned a lot about life together. We continue to face every challenge head on and not skimp and we live every day just like we want to and we have fun. I’m proud of her and very proud to have the teal and gold in the race car and thankful for the other 28 guys who have done it. I’m thankful for all that and everybody.”
Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott wrapped up the Tale of the Turtles 400 with a second-place finish, but he gave his best shot trying to run down Truex Jr. for the lead as the race concluded. Elliott held the lead for 38 laps, beginning on lap 125, but lost a battle with Kevin Harvick on lap 163, and led for four more laps towards the end of the race. This race marked Elliott’s 15th top-10 finish in 2017.
“We had just a solid day all around,” said Elliott. “Our car was fast. We had good pit stops on pit road. I thought our restarts were good. They didn’t go our way, but they were good. Circumstances, I felt like, kind of kept them going the way they did. But overall, we made the most of what we could today. Without some luck, I wasn’t going to beat the No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.). So, we did good today and we need to have more days like this.”
Kevin Harvick, driving Stewart Haas Racing’s No. 4 Jimmy Johns’ Ford, placed third after leading 59 laps. Harvick is now third in points standings. Denny Hamlin finished out the race in fourth and was followed by Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray.
“I mean I thought we were about a fifth or sixth place car all day,” said Kyle Larson, who placed fifth. “I didn’t start the race off very good. We were really tight, but worked on it and got it better at times. It was just really hard to pass for us. I know the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.) was really good and he was able to cruise to the front no problem, but we seemed to and it looked like everybody really struggled in traffic except for a couple of guys. But, a solid day, got stage points and then a top five finish. That will be good going into Loudon.”
Throughout the race, there were 12 lead changes among seven drivers. Kyle Busch, who started on the pole, led a race high of 85 laps. There were only four cautions, two marking the conclusion of Stages 1 and 2, and the others for two spins. Jamie McMurray, spun off turn 2 on lap 169, and Erik Jones spun off Turn 4 on lap 211.
Martin Truex Jr. currently leads the points standings with 2102 points, followed by Kyle Larson with 2075 points, a 27-point difference. Kevin Harvick takes third in points standings with 1067, a 35-point difference from Truex Jr. Kyle Busch in fourth, with 2061 points, a 41-point difference.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will follow up at New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Sunday, September 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET for the second playoff race. The race will air-on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images