Martin Truex Jr. has opened the second round of the 2017 playoffs the same way he began the first round last month, with a trip to Victory Lane. Truex smoothly managed a pair of late restarts, including one in overtime, driving away to his 6th victory of the season on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and securing a spot in the semifinal round of the Monster Energy Series Playoffs that opens October 29th at Martinsville Speedway.
Truex led twice for 91 laps, keeping his #78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota in front over the final 57 trips around the mile-and-a-half North Carolina oval. His margin of victory over runner-up Chase Elliott was 0.9 of a second. Kevin Harvick won the first two stages and led a race-high 149 laps en route to a 3rd place finish overall. Pole winner Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray completed the top five. Playoff participants swept those top five spots and grabbed seven of the first eight with Jimmie Johnson running 7th and Ryan Blaney 8th. Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Daniel Suarez was the highest-finishing non-title contender, in 6th place .
Austin Dillon, who won this year’s first race at CMS in late May, finished 16th on Sunday in his bid for season sweep. All but four of the 40 starters were running at the finish. The race included 14 lead changes among eight drivers. There were 10 cautions for 44 laps. Truex started 17th in the 40-car field. That’s the farthest
back a fall race winner has qualified at Charlotte since Brad Keselowski lined up 23rd in 2013.
– story by John Singler
Concord, North Carolina
1. Martin Truex, Jr.
2. Kyle Larson (-34)
3. Kevin Harvick (-37)
4. Chase Elliott (-47)
5. Denny Hamlin (-50)
For the complete driver standings in the Playoffs, please visit the official page on nascar.com.
Drivers eliminated after Round 1: Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch