Martin Truex Jr.’s come-from-behind seventh-place finish Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway advanced the Furniture Row Racing driver to NASCAR’s Eliminator Round of the Chase, equivalent to college basketball’s Elite 8.
The seven other drivers joining Truex in the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup will be Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.
Truex ended the Chase’s second round of 12 drivers sixth in points. The points for the next round are reset to 4000 for each of the eight drivers.
The top-four drivers earning the most points in the next three races in Martinsville, Va., Fort Worth, Texas and Phoenix, Ariz. will advance to the Chase’s final four for a one-race shootout for the championship in Homestead, Fla.
Truex got off to a shaky start early in the 196-lap overtime race, falling a lap down and stuck in the mid 30s in track position. But when the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet got back on the lead lap following a caution on Lap 130, he fought his way to the front and maintained his position all the way through the wacky finish, which saw the yellow flag fly for accidents during two green-white-checkered attempts.
“Never give up,” said Truex, the same slogan he has used repeatedly throughout the 2015 campaign, and the same slogan inscribed on ovarian cancer awareness wristbands that he and his girlfriend Sherry Pollex designed as a fundraiser.
Truex added, “I felt like I was on the seesaw today. It’s crazy how fast things can change and how much is out of your control. We were sitting there riding a lap down for about 100 laps thinking that we were going to need something special to get back on the lead lap and have a fighting chance.
“Then we got a caution while being in the lucky dog position. When we got back on the lead lap we were back in the game. It was still nerve-wracking down to the end. But we made it to the next round and I can’t say enough about this team, led by our crew chief Cole Pearn. If people underestimate us, that’s ok. But I never underestimate this team. There’s too much talent with plenty of fight.”
The seventh-place finish was Truex’s 20th top-10 of the season, setting a personal career season best.
The CampingWorld.com 500 race winner was Joey Logano. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Truex, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch.