Martin Truex Jr. went back-to-back for the first time in his career this season, first winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago and then again at Richmond Raceway last weekend. Those trips to Victory Lane also just happened to come in the first two postseason races. What a way to start the 2019 NASCAR playoffs.
At Las Vegas, Truex led 32 of the 267 laps. Then, at Richmond, he was out front for 109 of the 400 laps – and overcame a late spin to still win. The wins marked his second at both tracks in 16 years of racing in the Monster Energy Series.
Through 28 starts in 2019, Truex has notched six victories, 12 top fives and 17 top 10s, giving him an average finish of 10.5. He’s currently on top of the standings with 2,141 points and a 21-point cushion over second-ranked Kevin Harvick.
The Round of 16 will conclude Sunday with the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and there are 9 spots available in the Round of 12 with Truex and his ‘Big 3’ counterparts Kyle Busch and Harvick locked in.
Only three other drivers have won the first two postseason races since the playoff format was implemented in 2004: Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth. One of them went on to win another playoff race and ultimately score the championship title. The others peaked early and ended up falling short by the finale.
Greg Biffle, 2008
Biffle’s wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 19, 2008) and Dover International Speedway (Sept. 25, 2008) to open the 2008 NASCAR Playoffs were his only victories that season. None before. None after.
At New Hampshire, Biffle led 58 of the 300 laps. Then, at Dover, Biffle was out front for 29 of the 400 laps. The wins marked his first at New Hampshire and second at Dover in 15 years of racing in the Monster Energy Series.
Through his 36 starts in 2008, Biffle had 12 top fives and 17 top 10s, good for an average 12.9 finish. He ultimately closed out the season ranked third, 276 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson.
Tony Stewart, 2011
Stewart’s wins at Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 19, 2011) and New Hampshire (Sept. 25, 2011) were just the start of a strong 2011 NASCAR Playoffs run. En route to his third and final championship, Stewart won three more postseason races (Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway). Those were all his victories that season.
At Chicagoland, Stewart led 35 of the 267 laps. Then, at New Hampshire, Stewart was out front for just two of the 300 laps. The wins marked his third at both tracks in 18 years of racing in the Monster Energy Series.
Through his 36 starts in 2011, Stewart had nine top fives and 19 top 10s, resulting in an average finish of 12.0. He won the championships, thanks to the Miami victory, but actually ended up tied with second-place Carl Edwards at 2,403 points when all was said and done.
Matt Kenseth, 2013
Kenseth’s wins at Chicagoland (Sept. 15, 2013) and New Hampshire (Sept. 22, 2013) were his only during the 2013 NASCAR playoffs but sixth and seventh overall that season. Though he didn’t claim the championship, Kenseth did have the most victories that season. The next best was six total.
At Chicagoland, Kenseth led 89 of the 267 laps. Then, at New Hampshire, he was out front for 106 of the 300 laps. The wins marked his first at Chicagoland and first of three at New Hampshire in 21 years of racing in the Monster Energy Series.
Through his 36 starts in 2013, Kenseth had 12 top fives and 20 top 10s, bringing him to an average 12.1 finish. He ultimately ended the season in second, 19 points behind Johnson in first.