FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. went from the back of the field at the start of NASCAR's playoff's race at Texas three days earlier to finishing second in each of the first two stages Wednesday.
Truex led four times for 46 laps in the first 210 laps, and was running 1.2 seconds behind Kyle Busch at the end of the second 105-lap stage.
Busch, who is not among the remaining playoff contenders, is still looking for his first win this season. He has at least one win in every season since 2005.
Truex had to start at the rear of the 40-car field because of an illegal spoiler, which also included a crucial 20-point penalty that put his championship chase in a precarious position. A win could take care of that for the 2017 Cup champion who was the runner-up each of the past two seasons. He did win earlier this season at Martinsville, NASCAR's oldest and shortest track where they race Sunday.
The season finale, with Joey Logano and three other drivers racing to the championship, is Nov. 8 at Phoenix.
Just past the halfway point of the unplanned midweek race, the sun broke through the clouds, though the frontstretch and pit road remained in the shadow of the grandstand.
Clint Bowyer, who is retiring from full-time Cup driving after this season to go to the broadcast booth, was leading at the resumption of the race and also led after the first 105-lap stage.
Truex had restarted fifth, having already made up significant ground before the rrce was red-flagged Sunday after 52 laps because of misty conditions and drizzle. Those conditions persisted until Wednesday morning.
The race resumed after being on hold for 72 hours, 28 minutes and 34 seconds. It was overcast with temperatures still in the mid-40s and there were about 300 people in the stands. TMS and NASCAR planned to give each of them hot garage and pit passes to the NASCAR All-Star Race at the track next June.
Air Titan and jet dryer trucks, including some extras brought in from other tracks, did laps around the 1 1/2-mile track for nearly five hours before Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson, the seven-time Cup champion in his last full-time season, restarted 1-2. The 40-car field resumed with four caution laps before going green on Lap 57.
Matt Kenseth and Bubba Wallace were out of the race after contact sent both of their cars into the infield grass only four laps after going green Wednesday.
Kenseth's car wiggled coming out of Turn 4 and got bumped from behind by playoff contender Denny Hamlin. That sent Kenseth into Wallace's No. 43.
More AP NASCAR: https://apnews.com/NASCAR and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports