When you’re the best, you tend to stay the best. That is certainly the case in this 2017 season when it comes to Martin Truex Jr.
When he swept every stage at Las Vegas in the third race of the season, it was clear this driver has been reinvented since joining Furniture Row Racing. He’s more at ease, more driven, has some of the best equipment available, and the best personnel he can have.
He’s achieved more playoff points than any driver in competition, taking the regular season championship a race early.
First round of the playoffs, he took the first race and dominated, locking himself into the second round.
On Sunday at Charlotte, he had the NASCAR world thinking they were in the movie Groundhog Day, because despite a new surrounding, it was the same story at the checkered flag. New round, another win, and locked into the Round of 8 for the championship.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, unless something absolutely drastic happens in the third round, this dude is going onto the championship round, and will flat out win it. Remember, in the season finale, the four drivers that are in contention for the title will have an even amount of points. It won’t matter how they finish in the first two stages. What matters will be who will finish ahead of the rest in the title hunt. It is a straight up, heads up, throwdown for the title, with the first championship driver crossing the finish being declared the champion.
At the rate Truex is going, he will be that driver hoisting the inaugural Monster Energy Cup trophy at the end of the year.
He’s the one to beat, and unless he beats himself, I simply do not see it happening.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kevin Harvick
STAGE 2 WINNER: Kevin Harvick
RESULTS: 1-Truex Jr. 2-Elliott 3-Harvick 4-Hamlin 5-McMurray 6-Suarez 7-Johnson 8-Blaney 9-Kahne 10-Larson
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Kenseth 12-Earnhardt Jr. 13-Stenhouse Jr. 15-Keselowski 29-Kyle Busch
CAUTIONS: 10 for 44 laps. Laps: 37-40 (Competition Caution); 45-51 (#31, #14 Incident-BS); 92-97 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 117-120 (#95 Incident-T2); 137-140 (#18 Incident-T3); 182-185 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 267-270 (#10, #38 Incident-T2); 280-283 (#18 Incident-T2); 327-330 (#18 Incident-T3); 333-335 (#41 Incident-T1).
LEAD CHANGES: 14 among 8 drivers. D. Hamlin 1-40; C. Elliott 41-51; K. Harvick 52-93; J. McMurray 94-97; K. Busch 98-116; K. Harvick 117; K. Busch 118-120; K. Harvick 121-225; C. Elliott 226; D. Hamlin 227-231; K. Kahne 232-233; M. Truex Jr 234-267; K. Larson 268-279; K. Harvick 280; M. Truex Jr 281-337.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 38 Mins.
AVERAGE SPEED: 139.128 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.911 Seconds
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR PLAYOFFS: 1. Truex Jr, 3106*; 2. Larson, -34; 3. Harvick, -37; 4. Elliott, -47; 5. Hamlin, -50; 6. Kyle Busch, -51; 7. Johnson, -55; 8. McMurray, -62; 9. Kenseth, -63; 10. Keselowski, -64; 11. Blaney, -67; 12. Stenhouse Jr, -72; 13. Dillon, -1020; 14. Kahne, -1032; 15. Newman, -1038; 16. Kurt Busch, -1038.
*Locked into Round of 8.