This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Amazingly, Martin Truex Jr. had never won a short-track race until this season. He had also never won back-to-back races. On Saturday he doubled his short-track wins by sweeping races at Richmond Raceway and picked up his first back-to-back victories in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series. Even better for him is that his Las Vegas and Richmond wins were the first two races in the round 16 in the playoffs. He's holding his competitors at bay as he performs at the highest level with his sights set firmly on claiming his second series championship in Miami.
Truex started Saturday night's race from eighth and immediately raced his way to the front to claim the first stage win of the night. He lost ground on pit road to start the second stage but was never out of contention as he perfected his machine to make it the fastest on the track in the final miles. The win is icing on the cake in the round of 16 and, more importantly, withholds valuable points and momentum from the other playoff contenders.
This week the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course will decide the drivers who will make up the round of 12 that kicks off in two weeks at Dover International Speedway. Truex might have been last year's Charlotte winner were it not for contact in the final chicane with an optimistic Jimmie Johnson. Instead, it was Ryan Blaney who was left to pick up the pieces and claim the inaugural