Chicagoland NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr wins as playoffs begin

Martin Truex Jr won the first playoff race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup season as he recovered from two pitstop mistakes for victory at Chicagoland

Chicagoland NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr wins as playoffs begin

Regular season winner Truex led 77 of the 267 laps on the way to a win that further consolidates his playoff points lead and books him a place as one of the 12 who progress from this current round of 16.

In second place was Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott, who won stage two but started stage three in second, while Kevin Harvick took his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to third place having led 59 laps.

Denny Hamlin was the highest Joe Gibbs finisher in fourth, while the winner of the final regular season race, Kyle Larson, rounded out the top five.

Stage one was won comfortably by polesitter Kyle Busch ahead of Harvick, without a yellow flag flown.

JGR racer Busch lapped 26 of 40 cars over the first 80 laps, but a penalty for having too many crew members over the wall in stage two sent him back two laps down and he could only finish 15th.

Truex fell back in stage one having sped in the pitlane on lap 40, but he recovered 10th. The Furniture Row driver had more issues in the pitlane as, before stage two began, a loose wheel from his lap 80 pitstop forced him to stop again.

Elliott took stage two having won a race off pit road on lap 120 over then-leader Harvick, but Truex had managed to recover to third place, having overtaken Larson and Brad Keselowski in the last 10 laps of the second stage with frightening pace.

Harvick led the restart for stage three with Elliott chasing, but Truex closed in on both and swiftly took second.

With 77 laps to Truex duly took the lead with clever use of the apron to sneak under backmarkers and chase Harvick down.

Truex spent the following 20 laps building on that lead, lapping 25 cars including stage one winner Busch in the process, until Erik Jones spun without contact on lap 210.

The restart was Truex's and he stretched his legs to eventually build a 7.1 second lead over Elliott, who had overtaken Harvick on lap 228.

Team Penske pair Keselowski and Joey Logano finished sixth and seventh, respectively while Jimmie Johnson remained anonymous in his foray up to eighth having started 14th.

Rounding out the top 10 were Matt Kenseth of JGR and Larson's Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Jamie McMurray, who recovered from an earlier spin having made contact with Ryan Newman in stage two.

Only the top 12 drivers finished on the lead lap.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps
1 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 267
2 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 267
3 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 267
4 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 267
5 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 267
6 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 267
7 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 267
8 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 267
9 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 267
10 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 267
11 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 267
12 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 267
13 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 266
14 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 266
15 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 266
16 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 266
17 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 266
18 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 265
19 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 265
20 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford 265
21 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 264
22 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 264
23 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 264
24 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 264
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 263
26 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 263
27 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 263
28 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 262
29 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 262
30 Michael McDowell Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 262
31 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford 261
32 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 259
33 Erik Jones Furniture Row Racing Toyota 259
34 Jeffrey Earnhardt Circle Sport / TMG Chevrolet 258
35 Cole Whitt TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 257
36 Corey LaJoie BK Racing Toyota 256
37 Brett Moffitt BK Racing Toyota 255
38 Gray Gaulding Premium Motorsports Toyota 254
39 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Chevrolet 254
40 Ray Black Jr. Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 251

Playoff standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Martin Truex Jr. 2102
2 Kyle Larson 2075
3 Kevin Harvick 2067
4 Brad Keselowski 2061
5 Kyle Busch 2061
6 Denny Hamlin 2058
7 Jimmie Johnson 2046
8 Chase Elliott 2044
9 Matt Kenseth 2039
10 Ryan Blaney 2034
11 Jamie McMurray 2031
12 Kurt Busch 2026
13 Austin Dillon 2026
14 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2022
15 Kasey Kahne 2021
16 Ryan Newman 2019

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