When you’re good, you’re good. But when you’re extremely good, you are winning championships. That is what 12 drivers were looking to do when the second round of the playoffs began on Sunday in Charlotte.
But, even before the playoffs began, one driver was clearly ahead of the pack. A black, or in this case blue and white, Toyota from a small team based in the Mile High City that is outright beating the teams based at NASCAR’s hub. The most playoff points of any driver, the most wins of any driver, a regular season championship, and a consistent lead in the standings for majority of the season.
NASCAR’s powerhouse this season has seen triumph, loss, success, and struggles. His wife is the definition of a warrior, and he proves that the small team can compete with the big boys.
That driver is Martin Truex Jr, and the team is Furniture Row Racing. A sixth win on the year, and the move into the third round is official. Although not a dominant win, he was dominant when it mattered, and put the Round of 12 sticker above his door panel.
His sixth win on Sunday meant a pair of title contenders are now locked into the third round, and get to avoid what next week brings. Here’s the updated playoff standings after the Bank of America 500:
Ashley Hobbs (3082) Martin Truex Jr. WON –  2 40*
Misan Akuya (3079) Jamie McMurray finished 5th –  0 38
Ashley Hull (3076) Martin Truex Jr. WON –  2 34*
Sal Sigala Jr. (3073) Denny Hamlin finished 4th –  0 30
Rob Blount (3058) Kyle Larson finished 10th –  1 20
Ashley McCubbin (3045) Jimmie Johnson finished 7th –  0 11
Rob Tiongson (3038) Kurt Busch finished 22nd –  0 14
Billy Fellin (3034) Kyle Busch finished 29th –  1 20
Penny Whitecotton (3034) Brad Keselowski finished 15th –  1 12
Dalton Hastings (3033) Brad Keselowski finished 15th –  1 11
Dustin Parks (2151) Martin Truex Jr. WON – 
Klarissa Mitchell (2148) Jamie McMurray finished 5th – 
Patti Rodisch (2140) Kevin Harvick finished 3rd – 
*Advanced into third round of Playoffs.
Next Race: Two participants are locked into the second round, and that is a lot of stress relieved with what is looming. The last three years, this race decided who was in, and who was out, from going after a championship. This time, it is the meat in the sandwich of this round.
But, what remains the same is uncertainty. The difference is that when this race is over, teams then know what must be done to move on, rather than be at the mercy of others.
It’s big, it’s fast, and it’s back…the draft. It’s back to Talladega for race two of round two.
You participants that are still in contention, you know the rules. Fifth race means a fifth different pick. Everyone’s picks are to be locked in by Thursday, October 12, at 10 p.m. ET for the Alabama 500.