NASCAR playoffs at Chicagoland results: Martin Truex Jr. wins again, advances to Round of 12

Martin Truex Jr. picked up where he left off in the regular season, winning the first NASCAR playoff race of the year at Chicagoland Speedway. The victory is the fifth of the season for the No. 78 and second straight for Truex at the track. 

21-year-old Chase Elliott finished second, while 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick crossed the start-finish line third. Denny Hamlin finished fourth without his primary crew chief, who is serving a suspension. Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. Joey Logano was the only non-playoff contender to finish inside the top 10.

The regular-season champion automatically advances to the Round of 12 and will have another five points added onto his total, bringing it to an astounding 58. If the No. 78 makes it to the Round of 8, his points will carry over to that round as well however they would not if he makes the Championship 4.

Not only did Truex win in dominant fashion on Sunday, but he also got to fulfill the dream of many 90s kids.

Here's how it all went down on Sunday.

Stage 1: Kyle Busch dominates

Pole-starter Kyle Busch won the first stage in NASCAR playoff history in dominant fashion, leading 78 of 80 laps and lapping 27 cars including six playoff drivers en route to 10 valuable points as well as an extra point towards the next round. Harvick finished the stage roughly four seconds behind Busch in second followed by Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and non-playoff contender Logano to round out the top five. Brad Keselowski finished sixth to earn five points, Matt Kenseth seventh for four, Kyle Larson eighth for three and Truex 10th for one.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the first of the NASCAR playoff drivers to encounter trouble. Stenhouse got into the wall roughly 20 laps into the race and was forced to pit on lap 30 to work on potential suspension issues. The No. 17 team was then penalized for a commitment line violation, sending Stenhouse to the back of the pack. 

Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman were the other playoff drivers to go a lap down in Stage 1. Dillon suffered a speeding penalty during green flag pit stops while Newman, Blaney and Kahne were lapped by the speedy Busch. Rowdy did however show mercy to his brother and contender Kurt, not lapping him as the stage concluded. Truex was also penalized for speeding during stops, but was able to prevent himself from going a lap down and even climb back into the top 10.

Stage 2: Busch goes lap down, Elliott edges out Harvick

Chase Elliott won his third stage of the season and first of the playoffs, holding off 2014 champion Harvick after leading 38 laps. Again it was mostly NASCAR playoff drivers towards the front, with Logano serving as the only non-contender to place inside the top 10. Elliott earned 10 points plus a playoff point, Harvick nine, Truex eight, Larson seven, Keselowski six, Hamlin five, Kurt Busch three, Kenseth two and Jamie McMurray one.

Kyle Busch started the stage from the lead but immediately lost it to Harvick. He then pit on lap 96 after reporting a loose left-rear tire and the No. 18 team was immediately penalized for going over the wall too soon. Joe Gibbs Racing made the now-controversial decision ahead of the race to swap the No. 18 and 19's pit crews, which may or may not have cost Busch the race.

Drivers were able to cycle through green flag pit stops without penalty this time around as Harvick and Elliott battled from start to finish. Harvick held the lead for the first half of the stage until Elliott made the pass coming off pit road under green before eventually taking the green-and-white checkered. 

Final Stage: Truex Jr. runs away with it

McMurray became yet another playoff driver to encounter trouble, spinning out after contact with Newman as the green flag flew on the stage. The caution, first non-stage related yellow of the day, came at the expense of McMurray but allowed Blaney to get back onto the lead lap. 

Truex Jr. took the lead from Harvick on lap 189, 29 laps into the Final Stage, after passing both Elliott and Keselowski. Kurt Busch took his car onto pit road on lap 200 after reports of a loose wheel and was immediately penalized for speeding. The No. 41 was running inside the top 10 when the team made the decision to pit.

Erik Jones brought out the caution on lap 209 after suffering a flat rear tire and spinning out. Just a few laps before, Kyle Busch was in position to get the free pass however, Truex proved to be too fast, lapping both Landon Cassill and Paul Menard which essentially ended Rowdy's shot at winning the race. Jones was then penalized for having too many men over the wall. Upon the restart, Truex took off and never looked back.

Stenhouse Jr. again saw his problems continue in the Final Stage after finally climbing to within one lap down, the No. 17 was penalized on pit road. This time it was for speeding. He arguably had the worst day out of any NASCAR playoff contender.

Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway results

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

BOLD - indicates NASCAR playoff driver

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff standings

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR #

POINTS

BEHIND

WINS

1.

Martin Truex Jr.

78

2102

LEADER

5

2.

Kyle Larson

42

2075

-27

4

3.

Kevin Harvick

4

2067

-35

1

4.

Kyle Busch

18

2061

-41

2

5.

Brad Keselowski

2

2061

-41

2

6.

Chase Elliott

24

2059

-43

0

7.

Denny Hamlin

11

2058

-44

2

8.

Jimmie Johnson

48

2046

-56

3

9.

Matt Kenseth

20

2039

-63

0

10.

Ryan Blaney

21

2034

-68

1

11.

Jamie McMurray

1

2031

-71

0

12.

Kurt Busch

41

2026

-76

1

13.

Austin Dillon

3

2026

-76

1

14.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17

2022

-80

2

15.

Kasey Kahne

5

2021

-81

1

16.

Ryan Newman

31

2019

-83

1

Truex Jr. will have a chance to build off his performance next week when the playoffs continue at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin won at the track earlier in the season. 

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