DARLINGTON, S.C. — Martin Truex Jr. clinched the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular-season championship by winning the opening two stages Sunday night in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Truex clinched the title in the middle of the race and ultimately finished eighth. Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag on Sunday night, passing Truex for the lead with three laps to go.

As part of the revised NASCAR points system implemented this year, NASCAR added extra incentive for drivers to pursue the regular-season title.

The regular season wraps up next Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

NASCAR is awarding “playoff points” this season — points that are added to a driver’s total following the reset in points for the first three rounds of the playoffs.

Drivers earn five points for a race win and one point for a stage win during a race. The top 10 in the regular-season standings also earn playoff points on a 15-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.

Truex has the most playoff points of any driver. Not including points for where drivers finish in the regular-season standings, Truex has 37 playoff points — 17 more than second-place Kyle Busch, who also finished second in Sunday’s race.