Martin Truex Jr. has advanced to the second round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase after winning Sunday’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday.
Truex took the lead for good on Lap 269 following a restart in overtime. The Furniture Row Racing driver, who pitted under yellow for fresh tires, restarted fourth and passed Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards – all of whom were on older tires. Joey Logano got a similarly good run off the restart and moved from sixth to second in the two-lap overtime shootout, crossing the finish line .776 seconds behind Truex.
The result means Truex is safe from elimination from the Chase for the following two rounds at New Hampshire and Dover. He’s not planning on taking it easy, however, telling NASCAR.com that he’d like to win as many races as possible and take his first-ever Sprint Cup championship.
“We have more races to win—the more we can win, the better,” said Truex post-race. “What can I say? This is how we want to start off. This feels awesome.”
Despite the win, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Toyota driver Sunday. Truex led 30 laps early on, but lost a lap during an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire. He got returned to the lead lap after NASCAR gave him the the lucky dog following a caution on Lap 120.
If it wasn’t for Truex’s lightning-quick pit crew, the win might have gone to Team Chevy’s Chase Elliott. The rookie had a comfortable lead with four laps to go when McDowell blew a tire and brought out the final caution. Both Elliott and Truex pitted, however Truex was able to win the race off pit-road and get better track position for the restart.
“We had a fast NAPA Chevy,” Elliott said. “I appreciate everybody’s hard work this weekend. Hendrick was strong—that’s good to see. Like I said, there are some things you just can’t control with the amount of guys that stay out (under caution) and where you line up on a restart. We played the cards we were dealt and came up short.”
Eliott turned up third overall, with Ford drivers Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five. NASCAR will head to New Hampshire next weekend for the New England 300 – the second round of the 2016 NASCAR Chase. Click here for full results from Chicagoland and here for a full schedule of next weekend’s NASCAR festivities.