Chicagoland NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr grabs win in Chase opener

Martin Truex Jr produced a superb drive to take his third victory of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season in the first round of the Chase at Chicagoland

Chicagoland NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr grabs win in Chase opener

Rookie Chase Elliott looked set to take his first victory after leading for most of the second half of the race.

However, with four laps to go, a crash from Michael McDowell meant a late flurry of pitstops under the caution flag, where Truex took advantage and moved ahead of Elliott.

The caution took the race into Overtime, which allowed Truex to clear Ryan Blaney - who had not pitted - and take the chequered flag ahead of Joey Logano and Elliott.

Furniture Row Racing driver Truex was on a charge throughout the race, moving up from sixth on the grid to the lead by lap 22.

But a front right tyre issue forced an extra pitstop just over 50 laps later.

Though that dropped Truex a lap down, a blistering second half of the race with a strong effort by the pit crew set up his last-gasp victory.

Logano ran in the top 10 for much of the race and was elevated to the runner-up spot after a strong last stint.

Elliott was gradually climbing the order throughout and displayed great calmness under pressure but the Hendrick Motorsports driver was undone by the final round of pitstops.

Fellow rookie Blaney finished fourth overall after running consistently with those in the Chase before his good strategy call at the late caution thrust him into contention.

Brad Keselowski spent much of the race in the top three but couldn't keep pace with the Hendrick Motorsports cars.

He faded as the race approached the closing stages to finish fifth ahead of Denny Hamlin.

Polesitter and reigning champion Kyle Busch started well before falling down the order and ending up eighth after a pitlane speeding penalty.

Jimmie Johnson, the six time champion who has never missed the Chase since its introduction in 2004, was running first for much of the race after the first caution.

But he was passed by team-mate Elliott and later hit with a speeding penalty, leaving him 12th and meaning he has still never won at Chicagoland.

Kyle Larson, who was quickest in both of Saturday's practice sessions but started at the back due to a change of transmission, made a strong start and was up to fifth at one point but dropped to 18th after an extra pitstop.

Experienced Chase competitors Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth never felt comfortable with their cars while Kevin Harvick had to start from the back of the grid for a bodywork modification and finished a lap down in 20th despite a charge through the field.

RESULTS:

Pos Driver Team Car Laps
1 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 270
2 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 270
3 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 270
4 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 270
5 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 270
6 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 270
7 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 270
8 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 270
9 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 270
10 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 270
11 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 270
12 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 270
13 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 270
14 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 270
15 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 270
16 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 270
17 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 270
18 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 269
19 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 269
20 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 269
21 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 269
22 Clint Bowyer HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 269
23 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 269
24 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 269
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 268
26 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 268
27 Ty Dillon Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 268
28 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford 268
29 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford 267
30 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota 267
31 Brian Scott Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 266
32 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 266
33 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 265
34 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 265
35 David Ragan BK Racing Toyota 265
36 Cole Whitt Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 263
37 Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 262
38 Josh Wise The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 260
39 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 257
40 Joey Gase Go FAS Racing Ford 254

CHASE STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Martin Truex Jr. 2050
2 Brad Keselowski 2049
3 Kyle Busch 2046
4 Denny Hamlin 2045
5 Joey Logano 2043
6 Chase Elliott 2039
7 Matt Kenseth 2038
8 Jimmie Johnson 2037
9 Carl Edwards 2032
10 Kurt Busch 2031
11 Jamie McMurray 2030
12 Tony Stewart 2028
13 Kevin Harvick 2027
14 Austin Dillon 2027
15 Kyle Larson 2026
16 Chris Buescher 2016


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