TALLADEGA, Ala. — Chase Elliott has been inching toward his first career Sprint Cup victory all year, only to come up short time and time again.

He needs it to come Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, where anything but a win will likely eliminate the rookie phenom from NASCAR’s playoffs.

There have been five times this year that Elliott has finished second or third. He’s been inside the top five a total of nine times. He might have even won at Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago until he wrecked. Then a tire problem at Kansas dropped him to last in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings and on the edge of elimination.

“We are obviously disappointed in the way the past two weeks have gone, having such strong cars,” Elliott said Friday. “But it puts us in a pretty simplistic situation for this weekend.”

The third and final race of this leg of the Chase will trim the title contenders from 12 to eight, and Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick already have spots locked down. There are no guarantees for the remaining six spots, as drivers have come to Talladega the last two years in good position only to be bounced out after a bad day at the superspeedway.

n Martin Truex Jr. overcame an issue in inspection to win the pole for the playoff elimination race.

Truex turned a lap of 193.423 mph to earn the top starting spot Sunday. The winner of two races in the first round of the Chase, Truex is winless in round two but above the cutoff point. Four drivers will be cut from the field Sunday.

Prior to qualifying, NASCAR confiscated bolts from Truex’s Toyota and series officials were unsure what, if any, penalty the Furniture Row Racing team will face.

NASCAR vice president of competition Scott Miller said a points penalty is unlikely.

Miller said Truex had no competitive advantage, but the bolts taken could have been considered a safety issue.

TRUCK SERIES: Grant Enfinger grabbed his first career NASCAR win by holding off the pack to win at Talladega Superspeedway.