Joliet, Ill. — Martin Truex Jr. stretched his arms to his side and waited for a shower of green slime, the colored goop traditionally poured over the heads of game-show contestants and A-list celebrities.
Add NASCAR race winner to the list.
“It’s a lot funner to watch people get slimed than it is to get slimed,” Truex said. “But it’s definitely worth it to get that after the race.”
Truex might have left the rest of the field green with envy that he was again the driver celebrating in victory lane.
Truex backed up his regular-season dominance with a victory Sunday in NASCAR’s playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway that solidified himself as the driver to beat over the final nine races as he chases his first Cup championship.
He raced to his fifth victory of the season and earned an automatic spot in the second round of the playoffs, piling on more points in his bid to compete for the title in the finale at Homestead.
A driver with three Cup wins in his first 10 seasons, Truex has nine over the last two years for Furniture Row Racing.
Truex was in cruise control over the final 55 laps and built a nearly 7-second lead over Chase Elliott to win at Chicagoland for the second straight season.
Elliott was second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.
Truex entered the playoffs at the No. 1 seed with four wins, 18 stage wins and he totaled a 53 bonus points that he can keep through the first three playoff rounds.
At Singapore, Lewis Hamilton had been worried about how many points he would lose to Sebastian Vettel at the Singapore Grand Prix. It was supposed to be a damage limitation exercise for Mercedes.
Instead, Hamilton took a significant stride toward the world title after winning the race from fifth-place on the grid.
Vettel now trails Hamilton by 28 points with six races left in their title battle.
At Sonoma, Calif., Josef Newgarden won his first IndyCar championship by closing out the best year of his career as the top driver at Team Penske.
Newgarden turned in a nearly flawless performance at Sonoma Raceway to prevent his Penske teammates, as well as four-time champion Scott Dixon, from taking the title away from him. Penske driver Simon Pagenaud used pit strategy to win the race, but Newgarden finished second to win the title by 17 points.
Newgarden is only the second American in 11 years to win the IndyCar title.