Martin Truex Jr. wins Chase opener at Chicagoland in overtime

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Martin Truex Jr. needed less than a lap in overtime in order to take the lead and win the Chase opening Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Truex had to pass Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Ryan Blaney to get to the lead, which he took going into Turn 3.

“Darlington all over again, right?” Truex said to NBC Sports in victory lane. “The racing gods don’t want us leading too much, they got to make it difficult on us.”

This is the second time in three races Truex has won after leading less than 35 laps. He won the Southern 500 after leading just 28.

Truex started fifth after Kevin Harvick went to the back of the field for an unapproved adjustment. After leading 30 laps from Laps 22-51, the racing gods forced the No. 78 to pit road for a shredded tire.

“It was a long way to go at that point,” Truex said. “I was like, ‘On the one hand, here’s the bad luck that’s going to bite us again and on the other we’ve got a long time to pick it up. We’re lucky it happened early.”

By Lap 80, Truex had passed Harvick to get the free pass spot. Truex returned to the lead lap on Lap 121 after a caution for a spin by Brian Scott, but the struggles weren’t completely over.

“In the middle of the race we weren’t that good and we got back in traffic,” said Truex, who was in 15th by the halfway point on Lap 134 and then seventh by Lap 201. “Harvick ran into us and bent our fender I think on purpose and had to come back from that.”

He was in second when a caution came out for Michael McDowell losing a tire with four laps left, sending the race to overtime. Truex then beat Chase Elliott off pit road and restarted fourth.

The win is Truex’s third of the season, the sixth of his career and his first ever in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Truex is now qualified for the second round of the Chase.

“We have more races to win and we can win some,” Truex said.

Following Truex were Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski.

MORE: Results and statistics from Chicagoland

MORE: Point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chase Elliott led a career-high 75 laps and finished third for his eighth top five … Ryan Blaney finished fourth as the highest finishing non-Chase driver … Alex Bowman led for the third time in his Sprint Cup career and finished 10th for his first career top 10 … Matt Kenseth received a speeding penalty and recovered to finish ninth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 118 laps, but was caught speeding on pit road during green flag stops with 30 to go after pitting from second. Johnson finished 12th … Richard Petty Motorsports caused the first two cautions. A loose tire from Aric Almirola’s pit caused the first on Lap 49 … Brian Scott spun exiting Turn 4 on Lap 121 … Kyle Busch ran in the top five all day until he was caught speeding during green flag stops on Lap 173. Busch finished eighth … After starting from the rear, Kyle Larson slowly made his way into the top five. His day ended in 18th, a lap down after having to pit late for tire problem.

NOTABLE: Truex is only the second driver to win at Chicagoland after starting in the top five … Jimmie Johnson led more than 100 laps for the first time since the April 2015 race at Texas Motor Speedway … Hendrick Motorsports had only led 122 laps in the previous 12 races … Hendrick has now gone 22 races since its last win, matching its third-longest streak in team history.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I need to go run my head through a wall, maybe I’ll feel better.” – Jimmie Johnson after finishing 12th following a late pit road speeding penalty

WHAT’S NEXT: New England 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Results, point standings after Truck race at Las Vegas

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his second win of 2020.

He beat Sheldon Creed for the victory.

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly finished 18th and Travis Pastrana was 21st.

Click here for the race results.

Check back for the point standings.

Austin Hill wins Las Vegas Truck race

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading the final 39 laps to score the victory.

Hill took the lead on a restart and held off charges from Sheldon Creed over the final 20 laps.

Creed’s progress was slowed with 11 laps to go when he got loose and scraped the wall in Turn 1. He was never able to get close enough to Hill to make a challenge.

Creed dominated the early portion of the race, leading 89 laps before he struggled to get going on the final restart and briefly fell to seventh.

The win is the second of the year for Hill. He’s the first playoff driver to win in the postseason and it come after he finished 25th at Bristol.

“We didn’t have the best truck tonight by no means,” Hill told FS1. “Pit crew did a hell of job on that last pit stop getting me into the position I needed to. I just had to go out there and get it. … Sheldon was definitely way faster than me. … I was probably looking in my mirror more than I was our front. I knew he was better than we were.”

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

More: Race results and point standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith all matched their best results of the season … While he was the first driver to finish one lap down, IndyCar driver Conor Daly placed 18th in his first career Truck Series start … Travis Pastrana placed 21st in his second start of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Rachael Lessard finished 20th after he had to pit early in the race following contact with the wall … Ben Rhodes finished 23rd after he spun from contact with Stewart Friesen and hit the inside wall on Lap 84 … Jordan Anderson’s engine expired on the ensuing restart. He finished 32nd.

NOTABLE: Natalie Decker, who was not medically cleared to compete Friday night, was treated and released from the infield care center.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race at Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m. ET Oct. 3 on FS1

 

Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared. During the final stage of the race, NASCAR announced she had been treated and released from the infield medical center.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)