Martin Truex Jr. passed Ryan Blaney to win NASCAR's playoff opener Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, a victory that assures Truex advancement to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Rookie Chase Elliott was leading Truex by a comfortable margin when Michael McDowell crashed with five laps remaining. During the ensuing caution, Elliott and Truex both pitted for fresh tires while non-playoff eligible drivers Blaney and Kasey Kahne stayed out to inherit the top two positions.
On the restart Truex quickly moved around Kahne into Turn 1 and pulled to Blaney's bumper before passing him entering Turn 3. Joey Logano finished second, Elliott third, Blaney fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth.
The win is Truex's third of the season and sixth of his career. He is now guaranteed a spot in the second playoff round when the 16-driver field is cut by four following races next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Oct. 2 at Dover International Speedway.