Martin Truex Jr. gets the point of new playoff system

LONG POND, PA - JUNE 09: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, qualifies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Axalta presents the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 9, 2017 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

LONG POND, Pa. –  Halfway through the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season, Martin Truex Jr. leads the championship standings.

He also leads the series in playoff points earned, having won two races and an additional eight stages within the events to bring his total to 18. Should Truex retain the championship lead after the 26th race, he’ll claim another 15 playoff points as the regular-season champion.

More than any other entry this year, Truex and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team have mastered the art of winning races without sacrificing stage wins in the process.

“It’s difficult with the pit strategy – the way it can play out – and the stages,” Truex said. “It’s definitely changed the racing, without a doubt, and it’s been hard to manage how to be up front for the end of the race to try to get the overall win yet not give up those playoff points throughout the race.

“It’s definitely been different, and I think each week and each race track is different. I think Pocono this weekend is going to be interesting, because you can pit without going a lap down, almost like a road course. There’s going to be some wild strategies going on, and just depending on how the cautions play out, it could mix things up a whole lot. We’ll see how it plays out and hopefully we get some more points.”

Truex qualified second for Sunday’s Pocono 400.