This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Denny Hamlin took pole position for Sunday's First Data 500, but it was teammate Martin Truex Jr. who stole the show with a dominating performance. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver swept the stages and the race, logging an incredible 464 laps in the lead en route to becoming the first driver locked into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Two races remain for Truex to make life difficult on the rest of the field and prepare for the winner-take-all battle in Miami. Sunday's win was his seventh of the season and first since going back-to-back in Las Vegas and Richmond at the start of the playoffs.
Two races remain for three more drivers to find their way into the final battle to claim the championship. First up is Texas Motor Speedway where Hamlin was victorious in March. Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano hold the remaining three championship positions in the standings with Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott working to hunt them down. Everything can change with a win, though.
Martin Truex Jr. – Truex qualified well at Martinsville and leveraged the confidence he gained from the first short-track win of his career earlier this season to drive to the front and win the opening stage at Martinsville. His pace throughout the remaining laps never faltered, and he went on to sweep the second stage along with the race win to put his name in the hat