Martin Truex Jr. made a strong statement Sunday. The Furniture Row Racing driver overcame a flat tire that put him a lap down and won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. While Truex was celebrating his sixth career win, his third of the season and his first in the Chase, many of the Chase contenders had less than stellar days. Here’s how it all went down Sunday.
Thanks to a rainout on Friday, Kyle Busch was awarded the pole and led the field to the green on the inside; Brad Keselowski was second on the outside followed by Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr.
The only Chase contenders not starting in the top 16 was Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick. Larson was forced to give up his 10th place starting spot and start at the rear after his crew was forced to change his car’s transmission just prior to the race. Harvick gave up fourth and moved to the rear for unapproved adjustments after pre-race inspection.
Kyle Busch had a clear lead by turn 1, Hamlin and Keselowski side-by-side behind. Hamlin had second by lap 3, Keselowski third, Truex fourth, Jimmie Johnson was fifth.
Harvick and Larson were in the top 25 by lap 7.
Truex was looking for third on lap 8, as up front, the lead was nearing a second. Keselowski moved to second on lap 11 as Hamlin dropped back behind him with debris on his grill. Truex took advantage and took third on lap 12; Harvick took over 15th, Larson was 21st.
The top two, Keselowski and Truex had caught Kyle Busch, as Busch was catching the back of the field by lap 18; Truex took second on lap 20. Johnson moved to fourth on lap 21. Truex passed Busch for the lead on lap 22 just as the field was starting to get lapped.
Harvick took over ninth on lap 28. He was eighth two laps later. Larson was 19th. Truex had a lead nearing three seconds by lap 34.
Keselowski went to second on lap 39. There were 26 cars on the lead lap. Chase Elliott took over fifth on lap 42. Chase driver Chris Buescher went a lap down on the same lap.
The lead was 5 seconds for Truex as green flag stops began on lap 47.
Johnson and Harvick pitted on lap 48, just prior to the first caution coming out for a loose tire on pit road. Truex had not yet pitted. NASCAR ruled that Johnson was able to beat the pace car out so he was one of those who did not lose a lap.
The rest of the leaders pitted. Kyle Busch was out first, Keselowski second, followed by Truex, Elliott and Hamlin.
On track thanks to his well timed pit stop, Johnson was the leader, Alex Bowman was second with Kyle Busch lining up third when the green came out on lap 56.
Harvick who pitted with Johnson did not beat the pace car and restarted 21st, one lap down.
Johnson took the lead on the inside, Kyle Busch fell into second, Truex took over third; Keselowski took over fourth, Bowman settled into fifth. Truex had second by lap 65, Busch third.
Truex fell off the pace and pitted on lap 69; he reported a flat right rear tire. The crew found the tire was shredded. Truex rejoined the field in 21st spot one lap down just behind Harvick.
Keselowski took over second from Kyle Busch on lap 76. Elliott was fourth, Logano fifth. Johnson had a lead of 4 seconds. Carl Edwards reported a vibration. Truex got past Harvick on lap 81 for the free pass position, as Elliott went to third.
Green flag stops began again on lap 103. Johnson pitted from the lead on lap 104. Elliott and Keselowski pitted on lap 106.
After the stops cycled through, Johnson was back in the lead. Edwards in ninth reported some type of issue with his splitter just after the stops cycled through. There were 19 cars on the lead lap. Elliott was second, Keselowski third followed by Kyle Busch and Logano.
Brian Scott spun exiting turn 4, on lap 119 and the second caution waved. Truex got the free pass and was back on the lead lap. Chase driver Tony Stewart also benefitted as he was about to lose a lap.
The leaders all pitted. Johnson was out first out followed by Elliott, Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Logano. Matt Kenseth was penalized for speeding.
Green came out on lap 126. It was side by side with Johnson and Elliott through turn 2., but Johnson had the lead by the exit of turn 4. Elliott took over second as Keselowski loomed close behind. By lap 129, Elliott was able to move away from Keselowski. The car of Truex was starting to show smoke from a tire rub while he was running 15th. Harvick was in the free pass position in 20th.
Truex had worked his way to 12 by lap 158.
Another round of green flag stops began on lap 164. Bowman pitted from eighth on lap 170. Johnson pitted on lap 172, Elliott followed. During the cycle, Kyle Busch was penalized for speeding and given a pass through penalty.
When the stops cycled through, Johnson was back in the lead; Elliott was second, Keselowski was back in third. Hamlin was fourth, Logano fifth. On his pass through, Busch fell a lap down, but soon passed Johnson to regain his lap.
Elliott got past Johnson for the lead on lap 178; soon his lead was nearing a second. AJ Allmendinger went a lap down on lap 178, and suddenly Harvick was no longer the free pass car.
The third caution came out on lap 192. Stewart got the free pass.
The leaders all pitted. Elliott was out first, Johnson followed with Hamlin, Keselowski and Kyle Larson rounding out the top five. Truex meanwhile came out 8th; Kyle Busch came out 13th.
The green waved on lap 199; Elliott was able to clear Johnson for the lead, Keselowski took over third. Hamlin was fourth, Larson fifth. By lap 206, Elliott had a lead of just over one second.
Truex went to fifth on lap 210. He went to fourth several laps later.
Elliott’s lead was just over two seconds on lap 220. Truex went to third on lap 221, then to third on lap 225. The lead was 1.7 seconds for Elliott over Johnson. Deeper in the field, another round of green flag stops began. Truex was soon catching Johnson for second.
Truex got past Johnson for second on lap 235, just as Johnson pitted under green. Elliott and Truex pitted a lap later. Johnson was penalized for speeding on pit road, effectively ending his hopes for a win.
Alex Bowman stayed out hoping for a caution. Behind Elliott was second with Truex catching up in third.
Bowman finally pitted with 19 to go and Elliott was back in the lead with a 1.4-second lead with 18 laps to go. Harvick pitted from eighth with 16 laps to go. Johnson was back on the lead lap in 15th. Up front, the lead stabilized. Hamlin was third, followed by Keselowski and Logano.
With 10 laps to go the lead for Elliott was just over a second as Truex was closing. The lead was under a second with 8 laps to go. Larson pitted with 7 laps to go with a right front tire issue.
The lead was 1.1 seconds with five laps to go.
Caution 4 came out for Michael McDowell shredded a tire with four laps to go scattering debris on the track. There were 15 cars on the lead lap after Stewart was given a free pass.
The leaders all came in for stops. Truex won the race off pit road; Elliott was out second, followed by Logano, Hamlin and Kenseth.
Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Chase driver Edwards stayed out. Truex and Elliott lined up behind, fourth and fifth.
Because of extensive clean up the race went into overtime.
Blaney restarted on the inside, Kahne on the outside. Blaney got a good restart but Truex went to the outside and had the lead by turn 3. Blaney fell into second, Truex third.
Across the line, Truex held on for the win, Logano was second, Elliott third, Blaney and Keselowski rounded out the top five. Hamlin was sixth, Kahne seventh, followed by Kyle Busch, Kenseth and Alex Bowman rounding out the top 10. The full results can be found here.
The second race of the 10 race Chase comes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The New England 300 will get the green flag just after 2:00 p.m. ET next Sunday with love coverage on the NBC Sports Network starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.