Nascar

Martin Truex Jr. didn't know stage racing would be this great

It's likely that a dominating performance and sweeping the entire race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway helped boost Martin Truex Jr.'s thoughts on the new NASCAR stage racing format.

He liked the idea when it was in the planning stages, but after three races, it's playing out better than he expected.

"I think stage racing has been really fun so far," Truex said. "I was a proponent of it before the season started, but we all didn't really know how it was going to play out. The coolest part about stage racing is if you run really well, you get rewarded even if you have a bad finish due to a wreck or a parts failure. Stage racing really would have helped us last year."

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With the consistency that Truex has shown to be a front-runner over the past few seasons, getting points through the stages could have helped Truex from his early elimination in the playoffs last year.

After grabbing 20 points through the stages at Las Vegas, Truex now has 34 stage points, the third-most so far this season. He also has seven playoff points, which can be a huge advantage in the post-season.

Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick are the only two drivers ahead of Truex with 43 and 39 stage points, respectively.

The strong start to the season has Truex exactly where he wants to be with a lot of momentum heading into Phoenix this weekend.

"We're starting off the season strong, putting ourselves in a position to win races and that's really the key," Truex said. "We need to continue to run up front, lead laps and be there when it counts. That's what we did in Las Vegas."

Truex has won four of the last 15 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the most by any driver over that span.