Martin Truex Jr. Wins NASCAR Cup Regular Season Title, Still Seeded Second for Playoffs

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Regular-Season Champ Truex Seeded 2nd for PlayoffsChris Graythen - Getty Images

One year after failing to make the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Martin Truex Jr. celebrated the regular season championship on Saturday night, acquiring the coveted 15 playoff points that go to the title holder.

Truex clinched the championship before the Coke Zero 400 ended with Chris Buescher in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway due to his JGR teammate and closest challenger Denny Hamlin experiencing problems. A pit road penalty for a crew member over the wall too soon on lap 81 in the 160-lap race resulted in a pass-through penalty that sent Hamlin to the rear of the field. Then on lap 95, Hamlin was involved in a 12-car crash on the backstretch that relegated him to 26th-place finish.

“As soon as the 11 car (Hamlin) had his issue in Stage 2, we kind of got shuffled back a little bit,” Truex said. “I felt like I was in a really bad spot. I decided to bail. Luckily, I did because of the huge pileup a few laps later. Didn’t really get to race the way I wanted to once we kind of got in that position. We just kind of had to be smart about it. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but we had to do what we had to do.”

Even though Truex won the regular season title, he didn’t displace William Bryon as the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Despite both possessing 36 playoff points, Byron owns the most victories this season with five, while Truex has three.