What a year for Martin Truex Jr! He came into the championship race winning an amazing seven races and was also the regular season champion. As of this evening, he can be called a NASCAR Monster Energy Champion.
Martin Truex Jr was able to hold off other championship contenders Kyle Busch (2nd Place), Kevin Harvick (4th Place), and Brad Keselowski (7th Place), to win his first ever championship.
Outside of the Championship 4 racing for the championship, this was also the last race for one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR history, Dale Earnhardt Jr. As Dale Earnhardt Jr racing career came to an end, he received a standing ovation from the drivers as well as the fans. He and Matt Kenseth, a driver without a ride for next year, did parade laps at the rear of the field.
The race began with Denny Hamlin starting on the pole, but he was quickly passed by Martin Truex Jr before the first lap was over.
The first caution came out on lap four as Joey Gase hit the outside wall. A few cars including championship contender, Brad Keselowski, went into the pit.
The race restarted on lap 9 with Truex Jr as the leader. At lap 13, Kyle Larson took the lead from Martin Truex Jr as he would go on to win Stage one.
At lap 37, seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson, hits the outside wall and hit pit road. Kyle Busch had a scare as he reported that he had a vibration on lap 45. All the championship contenders were in the top five as Stage one ended. Daniel Suarez, a young driver at JGR racing, receives the free pass after Stage 1 ended.
As Stage 2 started, Brad Keselowski jumped to the lead as he led the first lap before Kyle Larson took the lead back. Stage 2 was just the same as Stage 1. The caution flag came back out on lap 141 as Danica Patrick in her last full season race hit the outside wall after cutting a tire. Kasey Kahne received some damage too. Cars came to pit road, including all the Championship 4. Kyle Larson comes off pit road first and restarts first. Larson wins Stage 2 as Martin Truex Jr finished second and in front of the other championship contenders.
After Stage 2 ended, all the drivers, the championship four included, hit pit road. Martin Truex Jr comes off pit road first. He restarted as the leader when the final stage began. Kyle Busch then takes the lead from Truex. Brad Keselowski comes to pit road to kick off green-flag stops on lap 197 as Busch stays out. Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick follow Keselowski on to pit road. A few laps after they pitted, Harvick and Truex Jr passed Kyle Busch to get back on the lead laps. Kyle Busch comes to pit road, finally on lap 215. Martin Truex Jr takes the lead. Kyle Busch falls back to seventh after he pit but quickly moves up to fourth before the next caution comes out. The caution was a savior to Truex Jr, Harvick, and Keselowski as they came to pit road before all the other cars. Martin Truex Jr restarted in the lead with 35 laps left to go with Kevin Harvick restarting second.
After battling Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson for the last twenty laps, Martin Truex Jr was able to hold them both off as he gets his eighth season win and first ever championship.