NSCS: Martin Truex Jr. Wins Chase Opener in Overtime at Chicagoland Speedway


JOLIET, Ill. – Martin Truex Jr. utilized his four fresh tires on the final restart in NASCAR Overtime to earn the victory in the opening race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.

When a cut tire by Michael McDowell brought out the caution at Lap 264 of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, the majority of the lead lap cars hit pit road for fresh Goodyear tires. Non-Chasers Ryan Blaney and Kasey Kahne and Chaser Carl Edwards stayed out, lining Truex up in the fourth position when the field returned to green.

Truex made quick work of the field to beat Joey Logano to the checkered flag by 0.776 seconds. The victory was the third of the season for Truex and automatically advances the 36-year-old driver to the Round of 12.

“We have more races to win – the more we can win the better. What can I say?,” Truex said of how it felt to win the first Chase race and advance to the next round.

“There are so many people who are responsible for this and I’m glad I get to drive this 78 with Cole Pearn (crew chief) and everybody on this team. Barney (Visser, owner) gives us everything we need. Thanks to TRD – the engines were incredible again – Andy Graves (TRD vice president) and those guys are doing a heck of a job. JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) builds our chassis and we have competition meetings with them and all that stuff has been an awesome relationship. What can I say – this is how we want to start off. This feels awesome.”

Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Alex Bowman completed the top-10.

Truex started from the sixth position as a result of qualifying being rained out on Friday afternoon and passed pole sitter Kyle Busch for the lead at Lap 22. Trouble hit at Lap 68 when the No. 78 Chevrolet had to pit due to a flat right front tire. After hitting pit road, Truex was one lap down in the 21st position.

“Don’t give up, just keep digging and there was only one way to go with that,” Truex said of having to pit for the tire issue. “On one hand the bad luck was going to bite us and on the other we had a lot of time to battle back. We’re lucky it happened early.

Truex would get his lap back when Brian Scott spun his No. 44 Ford in Turn 4 at Lap 121 and utilize a car that was good on the long runs to work his way back towards the front of the field.

“We knew we weren’t that good early in the race and we struggled in traffic a bit. (Kevin) Harvick ran into us and bent our fender, I think on purpose and we had to come back from that. All in all, just an unbelievable day – it was a total team effort, that’s what it’s going to take to win the championship.”

The race was slowed by four cautions for 22 laps and featured 17 lead changes amount nine different drivers – the majority of which occurred during green flag pit stops.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend for the second race in the three-race opening round of the Chase.

Full results of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, via NASCAR, can be found here.

Update: The No. 78 race-winning Toyota of Martin Truex. Jr failed post-race LIS (Laser Inspection System) at the track. Penalties will be announced during the next week. Truex will not have an “encumbered” finish as the failure was the lowest grade for the LIS platform.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Brian Eberly

Brian Eberly (@beberly18) is a Certified Public Accountant and Manager of Field Accounting at a transportation company, but when he isn’t at the office you can most likely find him at a racetrack, watching a race on television, or following the action on social media. Eberly became interested in NASCAR in the nineties when Jeff Gordon was dominating the scene, and became hooked when he attended his first race with his dad in 1999 at Michigan International Speedway. Eberly has been writing about NASCAR since 2012 for various websites. An Illinois native and Northern Illinois University graduate, Eberly travels throughout the Midwest covering racing events in multiple series. When not following racing, he can be found on the golf course (usually trying to find his golf ball) and following the Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs, Bulls, and of course the NIU Huskies.

Recommended for you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *