Win clinches final two races of playoffs for Truex
September 19, 2017 3:05 AM
by Micah Roberts
One race is down in NASCAR’s Playoffs and it went almost as scripted with Martin Truex Jr. winning at Chicagoland for his fourth victory in six 1.5-mile tracks and fifth overall.
The win gives him a pass in the final two races in the Round of 16. He can simply park his car if he wants, but he won’t. He’s going to try and pile up more wins and put his stamp on the season in his quest to win his first Cup Championship.
The rest of the drivers are going to have to make their mark on different types of tracks like this week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which features a flat one-mile layout. Of the nine races remaining on the season, four of them will be on 1.5-mile tracks and that’s likely going to mean more Truex Jr. Even the Nov. 19 Championship Race at Homestead is a 1.5-mile layout.
No need to crown Truex yet. Let’s at least see how it plays out. I’ve been waiting for some drama between the drivers and we got a little bit of it on Friday, albeit coming via Twitter. I guess that’s the new way of talking smack in NASCAR. Whatever, I’ll take it, because the physical altercations seem like a thing of the past.
Brad Keselowski saw the top-4 speeds in the first practice all being from Toyota and tweeted: “We are all in for a rude awakening. Haven’t seen NASCAR let a manufacturer get this far ahead since the 70’s.”
Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, who were both driving one of those top-4 Toyotas, responded with comments of their own and attached an array of emoji’s crying a river. Hamlin basically said “worry about your own program, bro.”
The funny part about Keselowski’s commentary in the tweet is Joe Gibbs Racing didn’t even win in the first 18 races of the season when Keselowski had won twice. JGR has now won four of the past nine races and Keselowski hasn’t won since April 2 at Martinsville. It’s sour grapes and an internet confrontation, but I’ll take it.
Hamlin should be considered one of the top candidates to win at NHMS on Sunday just because no active driver is better than him there. He loves flat tracks. This is just a bigger Martinsville, but the concept of what makes him successful on a flat paperclip shape is the same. He won his third career race there in July, and his 10th-place average finish in 23 starts is the best in the Series. Keselowski is next at 10.1 in 16 starts with one win.
Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch are all tied with Hamlin’s three wins as the most among active drivers. However, I should note Truex led the most laps (137) during the July race and finished third. He will factor again.