Martin Truex Jr. was eliminated after the second round of the playoffs in 2016. This year, he hopes to avoid an early round exit.
Martin Truex Jr. already has five wins during the 2017 season and with 59 playoff points to start the second round, many have already penciled Truex as one of the four drivers in the Championship Round.
But, not so fast. Last year Truex Jr. saw an early round exit after a 40th place finish at Talladega in the final race of the second round.
Similar to this year, Truex won the opening race of the first round and set himself up for a second round berth early. But it was all for nothing with finishes of 13th at Charlotte and 11th at Kansas.
This year, however, Truex has two things going for him. Playoff points and Talladega as the middle race in the second race, not the last.
Truex won the race at Kansas earlier this year after leading a race high 104 laps and finished third at Charlotte after dominating by leading 233 of the 400 laps.
Truex Jr. will have a little work to do when the race starts, as he will roll off from the 17th starting position.
With an 18 point lead over second place Kyle Busch to begin the second round and a whopping 39 points over fourth place Brad Keselowski, Truex is already in solid shape to advance to the third round this season.
Follow Matt on Twitter, @mattlovisa.