Martin Truex Jr. starts NASCAR Round of 12 with a Win at Charlotte [VIDEO, PHOTOS]

Martin Truex Jr. started the second round of NASCAR‘s playoffs the way he began the first round, earning an automatic advance to the next round with a win.

Due to weather earlier in the race weekend at Charlotte, the drivers and teams were starting the race with only a few laps of practice to go on for the set-up for their cars in the Bank of America 500.

Kevin Harvick looked strong all afternoon and appeared that he would be the Chase Grid driver earning the automatic advance to the next round of the NASCAR playoffs as he won both the first and second stages of the race on his way to a race high 149 laps led in the scheduled 334 lap race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr. started the race from the 17th position and his team had to adjust on the car all afternoon to help him move his way through the field toward the front of the field of cars. By the time the race reached 100 laps remaining, Martin had worked his way to the lead of the race.

Kyle Larson had also been running up front most of the day and he and Kevin both were able to lead the race again after Martin led for the first time. However, Martin got back out in the lead and was able to get a cushion of a couple of seconds as the race continued to wind down.

That cushion was erased when the 10th and final yellow flag was issued on lap 333 of the race. That put the race in a NASCAR overtime finish. When the race re-started for the green-white-checkered finish Martin was able to rocket out to the lead and hold it for the final two laps to capture the win.

Chase Elliott was able to get to the second place position on the restart and hang on to claim that as his finishing spot in the race. Kevin Harvick left Charlotte with a third place finish. Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray finished in fourth and fifth places respectively. See the complete race results for the Bank of America 500 here.

The win is Martin Truex Jr.’s sixth of the year, second in the playoffs and more importantly keeps him at the top of the point standings, on top of the Chase Grid and as mentioned clinches his spot in the next round in The Chase.

The next four drivers in the point standings round out the top five and also sit in the same position on the Chase Grid. Those drivers are Kyle Larson (2nd), Kevin Harvick (3rd), Chase Elliott (4th) and Denny Hamlin (5th). Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson were the only two drivers in the top five heading into the race Sunday afternoon. See the complete Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series point standings here.

The Chase Grid drivers have a true “wild-card” race next as they head to Talladega Superspeedway. The possibility of being caught up in the “Big One” will make every driver, especially those trying to advance in the playoffs, nervous about the race. However, that also means that just about any drive can win the race if things fall in their favor.

The only driver playoff driver that will not feel the pressure of racing in the Alabama 500 Sunday, October 15th is Martin Truex Jr. who has already secured his spot in the next round.

By: Buck Stevens