The first race of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Chase is in the books as Martin Truex Jr. took home the checkered flag in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 from Chicagoland.
With two more races left in the round of 16, here are the updated Chase standings:
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Point Standings|
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||2,050|
Here is the remaining schedule for the Sprint Cup's 2016 season, as only nine more races remain:
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase Schedule|
|Round of 16|
|Sunday, Sept. 25||2 p.m.||New England 300||New Hampshire|
|Sunday, Oct. 2||2 p.m.||Citizen Soldier 400||Dover|
|Round of 12|
|Saturday, Oct. 8||7 p.m.||Bank of America 500||Charlotte|
|Sunday, Oct. 16||2:15 p.m.||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas|
|Sunday, Oct. 23||2 p.m.||Alabama 500||Talladega|
|Round of 8|
|Sunday, Oct. 30||1 p.m.||Goody's Fast Relief 500||Martinsville|
|Sunday, Nov. 6||2 p.m.||AAA Texas 500||Texas|
|Sunday, Nov. 13||2:30 p.m.||Can-Am 500||Phoenix|
|Sunday, Nov. 20||2:30 p.m.||Ford Ecoboost 400||Homestead|
Despite him failing post-race inspection, Truex's win ensures that he will be moving on to the round of 12 that begins after the next two races.
It took until overtime, but a well-timed pit stop saw Truex get four fresh tires that would carry him to victory. On the restart, he ran down Ryan Blaney on the outside and shot by him for the lead and the win.
NASCAR showed his finish, which became an easy one thanks to those new tires:
The win ensured that Truex would lead the Sprint Cup standings for the first time in his career. But he isn't resting on his laurels even though he's safe for the next round, via Reid Spencer of NASCAR.com: "We have more races to win—the more we can win, the better. What can I say? This is how we want to start off. This feels awesome."
Brad Keselowski is one point behind Truex in the standings after he finished in fifth place on Sunday. He was one of just two drivers who won four races this season, making him one of the favorites to punch his ticket next into the round of 12.
The other driver who won four races this year is last year's Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch. After winning the pole for Chicagoland, Busch finished in eighth place, but because he led 21 laps on Sunday, he is just four points behind Truex in third.
Next for the Chase drivers is the New England 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the penultimate race of the round of 16.
While the track offers plenty of room for speed at 1.058 miles long, its narrow dimensions width-wise will present plenty of opportunities for competing drivers to get up close and personal to each other during the postseason.
Stats courtesy of NASCAR.com.