Martin Truex Jr. served notice that he is the front runner for the Sprint Cup Championship as he won his second race in the first round of NASCAR‘s playoffs in the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway.
The 16 drivers on the Chase Grid really only had one goal for the 400 lap (400 miles) race on the “Monster Mile,” finish high enough in the elimination race to advance to the Round of 12 in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick had already won a race in the Round of 16 to achieve that goal, so they just wanted to win the race. That goal was dashed for Kevin as he had trouble early in the race that took that possibility out of his day.
For the remaining 14 drivers still in the Chase Grid it was a mix of fates throughout the Citizen Soldier 400. For the most part, the race was pretty tame for the “Monster Mile.” While some drivers had a good day and others had an average day, other drivers (both Chase contenders and non-contenders) there were mechanical issues, tire issues and mistakes that would change the outcome of the race for them.
Jamie McMurray was above The Chase cut line starting the race, but he was one of the drivers that had issues and would find himself fighting through the race to get back above the cut line.
Jimmie Johnson appeared to have the only car that would be able to challenge Martin Truex Jr. for the win. However, a mistake by his pit crew during the final pit stop would earn the #48 a penalty and take Jimmie from leading the race to not having a chance to win.
There were only four caution periods during the entire 400 lap race. Martin dominated the race leading a race high 287 laps on his way to winning his second race in The Chase and fourth of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Kyle Busch claimed the second place finish with Chase Elliot in third. Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano finished in fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively. The top six cars were the only ones to finish the race on the lead lap. See the complete race results for the Citizen Soldier 400 here.
The win moves Martin Truex Jr. up a spot to the top of the point standings. Kevin Harvick moves up four spots to second place via his win at New Hampshire in race #2 of The Chase. Kyle Busch remains in third place with Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano holding steady in fourth and fifth places respectively. See the complete NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings here.
The next round of The Chase is now set to begin. The Round of 12 means that the remaining 12 drivers in contention have had their points reset to 3,000 each and starts the next three-race round even in points. Just as in the first round, win one of the next three races and earn an automatic advance to the next round. The third race of the round will again be an elimination race that will end the championship hopes of the bottom four drivers on the Chase Grid after that race. See the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Grid here.
The first chance for the Chase Grid drivers to earn that automatic advance will come under the lights of Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Bank Of America 500 Saturday night, October 8th.
By: Buck Stevens