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NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. clinches playoff points bonus one race early

No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Martin Truex Jr. lost out on a fifth win of the season and a repeat as Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner Sunday night at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway when he got into the wall and was passed by a fast-closing Denny Hamlin in the last couple of laps of the 367-lap race, but Truex was a winner Sunday night, nonetheless. He was the eighth-place finisher in the race but was a winner Sunday night, nonetheless.

Truex’s win of the two 100-lap stages that made up the first 200 laps of the race — his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series-leading 16th and 17th stage wins of the season — brought his playoff-points tally to 37, plus another 15. Truex headed into the race needing only to earn 20 regular-season points to clinch a regular-season bonus of 15 playoff points, regardless to the finishes or points earned by any of his fellow-competitors. His stage wins at Darlington each garnered 10 points, so together, they gave Truex a clinch of the regular-season points lead with one race remaining in the regular season. Those 15 points that go to the regular season “champion” brings Truex’s playoff points tally to 52 points, and he could built that total even more with a stage win or two or the race win in the regular-season finale at Richmond (Va.) Raceway on Saturday night.

“It’s definitely special; it feels great,” Truex said. Definitely can go to Richmond without any pressure, which is awesome. The other cool part is I clinched my first NASCAR championship here back in ’04 in the Busch Series back then. To do it here, again, tonight was really cool. It was just kind of a neat connection. Darlington has been good to me.”

In addition to a point for each stage win, Truex’s playoff points total includes five points for each of his four wins, so far, this season.

Truex’s playoff-points total is a series leader, by a long shot. Kyle Busch has the second-largest tally with 20.

With NASCAR’s tweaks to the playoff format for 2017, Truex will carry his playoff-points tally of at least 52 points from round to round in the playoffs, as long as he’s not eliminated, until the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, just as other playoff drivers carry their playoff points from round to round throughout their survival in the playoffs.

“It’s an honor to win the regular-season championship and a milestone for Martin and Furniture Row Racing,” Furniture Row Racing President Joe Garone said. “At the end of the day, though, our sites are set on the longterm goal which is winning the championship at Homestead. We’ll use this regular season championship and the bad luck the 78 team had at the end of tonight’s race as a springboard to take us to that goal.”

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on September 4, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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