Martin Truex Jr. Wins Chase Opener; Chase Elliott Comes Up Short

As the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway comes to a close, the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup has begun. Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. wins Chase opener in a late dash to the finish line. Hendrick Motorsports rookie Chase Elliott suffers a heartbreaking loss, extending the Hendrick losing streak to 22 races.

Martin Truex Jr. Wins Chase Opener; Chase Elliott Comes Up Short

The Finish

Rookie driver Chase Elliott dominated much of the second half of the race along with teammate Jimmie Johnson. Former 24 driver and car-owner Jeff Gordon stood atop Elliott’s pit-box in anticipation of a dominant victory. Martin Truex Jr. had closed Elliott’s lead to one second by 10 laps to go. With five laps to go, the right front tire of Michael McDowell blew out. The incident strew debris on the racetrack, some of which was run over by Truex.

McDowell’s tire drew the caution, bringing the race leaders to pit road. Chase Elliott’s rear tire changer stumbled, dropping the tire and slowing the stop. The blunder brought Elliott out of pit road second, behind Truex. Fellow rookie driver Ryan Blaney opted to stay out of pit road, followed by Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards. As the green flag flew with three laps remaining, Truex quickly overtook those who stayed out to climb from fourth to first in one lap. Martin Truex Jr. wins Chase opener, securing his spot in the next round of the Chase.

Hendrick Woes Continue

Hendrick Motorsports came to the opening round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup on a 21-race losing streak. They leave Chicagoland speedway with a 22-race losing streak. This is their longest losing streak since their 1994 losing streak of 22 races. It seemed as though they were set to break that streak today. Jimmie Johnson dominated much of the race, but was penalized on pit road. Chase Elliott then seemed the likely victor, until pit road issues and a late caution squandered his chances as well.

Although his first win still eludes him, Chase Elliott retains a positive spirit towards the remainder of the Chase. The rookie driver leaves Chicagoland sixth on the Chase grid after being one of the drivers to race in on points. The 20-year old rookie told NBCSN “We were fast and that’s something to be happy about”. The 24 team finished the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 in third. The last Hendrick Motorsports victory remains the Auto Club 400 in March.

Chase Grid

  1.  Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Denny Hamlin
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Chase Elliott
  7. Matt Kenseth
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Carl Edwards
  10. Kurt Busch
  11. Jamie McMurray
  12. Tony Stewart
  13. Austin Dillon
  14. Kevin Harvick
  15. Kyle Larson
  16. Chris Buescher