Martin Truex Jr. turned in another dominating performance Sunday, winning the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Four drivers – Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher – were eliminated from the Chase as NASCAR’s postseason enters the second round at Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend.
Truex, who won two races in the first round, finished 7 1/2 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Busch. Truex won the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway, in addition to the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Labor Day weekend.
McMurray, who entered the race tied for 13th in the standings, blew an engine on Lap 192 and finished 40th – last. Larson dropped out of the top 12 because of engine problems that led to a 25th-place finish.
Kevin Harvick, who had also already clinched a spot, finished 37th after an early tire problem sent him to the garage.
Jimmie Johnson appeared to have the strongest car in the race until a pit-road penalty dropped him from the lead on Lap 277. It wasn’t long before Truex gained control, eventually taking the lead for good with 27 laps remaining.
How the NASCAR Chase drivers fared:
Advancing to second round
1. Martin Truex Jr. (3,000 points**): Would appear to be the clear favorite as Chase heads into second round.
2. Kevin Harvick (3,000*): Cut a tire early and his team found a broken track bar mount while the No.4 Chevy was in the garage. His 37th-place finish was moot, however, since he’d already won the week before in New Hampshire and clinched a spot in the second round of the Chase.
3. Kyle Busch (3,000): Led 102 laps and was the best of the rest, finishing second behind Truex’s dominant car.
4. Matt Kenseth (3,000): Ended up fifth for another steady finish (second at Loudon, ninth at Chicagoland).
5. Joey Logano (3,000): Finished sixth and heads to Charlotte, where he began Chase hot streak in 2015.
6. Carl Edwards (3,000): Finished safely in 14th, was never a factor – but never in danger of dropping out of the top 12.
7. Brad Keselowski (3,000): Led two times for a total of seven laps, finished fourth.
8. Kurt Busch (3,000): Fifteenth-place finish. He has been consistent enough to stay inside cut line.
9. Denny Hamlin (3,000): Finished ninth, another guy who just had to stay out of trouble to advance – which he did.
10. Chase Elliott (3,000): Rookie finishes third, makes the second round in his first Chase.
11. Jimmie Johnson (3,000): Might have had strongest car in the field, was leading until pit-road penalty dropped him to eventual seventh-place finish.
12. Austin Dillon (3,000): Finished eighth, then took advantage of problems by Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray to crack top 12.
13. Tony Stewart (26 points out of 12th place): Moved up two places in standings, but needed three to advance after 13th-place finish.
14. Kyle Larson (27 out of 12th): Just an all-around lousy day for Larson, who had electrical problems and a pit-road penalty early. That put him down three laps – and a blown tire on Lap 183 sent his No. 42 Chevy into the wall and out of the Chase.
15. Jamie McMurray (47 out of 12th): He lost a cylinder in his engine and had to go to the garage, leading to a 40th-place finish and an early exit from the Chase.
16. Chris Buescher (55 out of 12th): Finished 23rd and probably gained some valuable experience from his first Chase run.
**2 Chase victories
*1 Chase victory
▪ Chase drivers Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon gave up their spots in Sunday’s early Xfinity race so they could be at full strength for the Cup race. The Xfinity race was postponed by rain from Saturday. Drew Herring replaced Busch and non-Chase drivers Ryan Blaney and Regan Smith drove for Logano and Dillon, respectively.
▪ The Dover track made a good move by allowing fans who attended the Xfinity race to remain for the Cup race.
▪ Both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers – Larson and McMurray – qualified for the Chase, which was great news for the team. Sunday was tough for CGR, though, with both drivers having problems with their cars and being eliminated from the postseason.
They said it
“The last month and half has been ridiculous, like a fairy-tale dream.” – Truex.
Tweets from Sunday’s race:
Bank Of America 500
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord.
When: 7 p.m., Saturday.
Radio: Performance Racing Network.