JOLIET, Ill. — Highlights of Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400, the first race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup playoffs, at Chicagoland Speedway:
WINNER: Martin Truex Jr. overcame an early pit-road penalty to win the first race of the playoffs and gain an automatic berth into the second round.
Truex, who entered the playoffs as the top seed, earned his fifth victory of the season, most among all drivers.
This is awesome, man! This is the playoffs, this is what it's all about," Truex said after climbing out of his Furniture Row Racing Toyota.
He added in victory lane, "I don't really care a lot about statements. I'm just having fun. It's important to come here and not let the pressure get to you, and I think we did a good job with that."
Truex was caught speeding during the opening stage and was forced to serve a pass-through penalty. But Truex managed to stay on the lead lap and had plenty of speed to work his way back to the front.
Chase Elliott finished second, Kevin Harvick third, Denny Hamlin fourth and Kyle Larson fifth. Brad Keselowski took sixth, Joey Logano seventh, Jimmie Johnson eighth, Matt Kenseth ninth and Jamie McMurray 10th. Logano was the only driver to finish in the top 10 who is not part of the 16-driver playoff field.
Among other playofff drivers, Ryan Blaney finished 11th, Kyle Busch 15th, Austin Dillon 16th, Kurt Busch 19th, Kasey Kahne 21st, Ryan Newman 23rd and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 25th.
JONES SLIDES: Erik Jones lost control of his Toyota on lap 209 and slid along the track’s lower groove into turn four, damaging the car’s right-rear quarter-panel and bringing out the caution. Truex had a 3.2-second lead when the yellow flew.
MAC ATTACK: McMurray spun onto the apron near turn two on the restart that followed the end of stage two. He pitted but didn’t lose a lap. McMurray’s spin prompted the first “real” caution of the race (after the cautions at the end of stages one and two).
STAGE TWO: Elliott pushed to the front during the second stage and was easily out front at the end of the 80-lap run. Following in the top five were Harvick, Truex, Larson and Keselowski.
PIT TROUBLES: Kyle Busch, dominant early in the race, fell on hard times during the second stage. He pitted under green with a loose wheel, then was hit with a pass-through penalty because a crew member jumped over the pit wall too soon during his stop. He lost two laps.
STAGE ONE: Kyle Busch was supersonic in the first stage, leading 78 of the 80 laps and finishing first. He was followed by Harvick, Elliott, Hamlin and Logano. During pit stops, Truex’s crew left lug nuts loose on the right rear wheel, forcing Truex to return to his pit. He was 10th at the stage finish.
NO SPEEDING HERE: Playoff drivers Truex and Dillon were caught speeding on pit road during the first round of pit stops.
TROUBLE FOR 17: Stenhouse was the first playoff driver to encounter trouble. He whacked the wall on lap 30 and then had a commitment-line violation, forcing him to pit twice. He lost two laps.
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