NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Martinsville Speedway

Final chance for Playoff contenders to make the Championship 4 Round

This Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race, the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, is the last chance for the eligible postseason contenders to earn a spot in the 2021 Championship 4 Round.

Currently, Kyle Larson is the only NASCAR Cup Series Playoff contender to secure his spot in the Championship 4 and did so by winning the first two races in the Round of 8 at Texas and Kansas. It’s the first time in his career he has advanced the Playoffs’ final round. That leaves just three spots up for grabs among the seven remaining Playoff challengers and since the introduction of the ‘elimination-style’ format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, racing your way into the Championship 4 Round in the ninth and final cutoff race of the Round of 8 has proven to be much more difficult than one might expect with only three drivers accomplishing the feat.

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2014: Heading to Phoenix Raceway (the ninth race of the Playoffs) in 2014, Kevin Harvick was ranked eighth in the Playoff standings, six points back from NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 Round. Kevin Harvick won the race at Phoenix and automatically advanced to the final round. Jeff Gordon finished runner-up, but it wasn’t enough and was bounced out of the Playoffs. Harvick would go on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title in 2014.

2015: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline heading into the ninth race of the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Carl Edwards (-7 points from cutoff), Brad Keselowski (-19), Kurt Busch (-28) and Joey Logano (-63) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Logano finished third, Kurt Busch finished seventh, Keselowski finished ninth and Carl Edwards finished 12th.

2016: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline without a win heading into the ninth race of the 2016 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Matt Kenseth (-1 point from the cutoff), Denny Hamlin (-2), Kevin Harvick (-18) and Kurt Busch (-34) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Harvick finished fourth, Kurt Busch finished fifth, Hamlin finished seventh and Matt Kenseth finished 21st.

2017: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline heading into the ninth race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Denny Hamlin (-19 points from the cutoff), Ryan Blaney (-22), Chase Elliott (-49) and Jimmie Johnson (-51) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Elliott finished second, Blaney finished 17th, Hamlin finished 35th and Jimmie Johnson finished 39th.

2018: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline heading into the ninth race of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Kurt Busch (-3 points from the cutoff), Chase Elliott (-17), Aric Almirola (-35) and Clint Bowyer (-51) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 Round and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Almirola finished fourth, Elliott finished 23rd, Kurt Busch finished 32nd and Clint Bowyer finished 35th.

2019: Heading to Phoenix Raceway (the ninth race of the Playoffs) in 2019, Denny Hamlin was ranked fifth in the Playoff standings, 20 points back from Joey Logano in the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 Round. Denny Hamlin won the race at Phoenix and automatically advanced to the final round. Joey Logano finished ninth, but it wasn’t enough and was tossed out of the Playoffs. Hamlin would go on to finish the season fourth in the championship standings.

2020: Heading to Martinsville Speedway (the ninth race of the Playoffs) in 2020, Joey Logano had secured his spot in the Championship 4 Round by winning at Kansas Speedway in the Round of 8 leaving three spots up for grabs. The drivers ranked below the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round cutline were Alex Bowman (-25), Chase Elliott (-25), Martin Truex Jr. (-36) and Kurt Busch (-81). Chase Elliott would go on to win the Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway clinching his spot in the Championship 4 and bouncing Kevin Harvick (17th-place finish) out of the final round. Kurt Buch (fifth-place finish), Alex Bowman (sixth) and Martin Truex Jr. (22nd) all failed to make the Championship 4 Round and were eliminated from the Playoffs following Martinsville.

Martinsville Speedway and the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

The 2021 season marks the second time Martinsville Speedway has hosted the penultimate race (Race No. 9) in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – the Round of 8 elimination race.

Since the inception of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2004, Martinsville Speedway has occupied three different positions on the postseason schedule. From 2004 – 2010 (seven seasons) Martinsville Speedway hosted the sixth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and from 2011 – 2019 (nine seasons) Martinsville hosted the seventh race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Last season (2020) was the first time Martinsville Speedway hosed the ninth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Martinsville Speedway is the third different track to host the ninth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; joining Darlington Raceway (2004) and Phoenix Raceway (2005-2019).

A total of nine different drivers have won a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway. Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in postseason wins at Martinsville Speedway with six Playoff victories (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2016). Denny Hamlin leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in postseason wins at Martinsville Speedway with two Playoff victories (2009, 2010). Five of the current eight drivers in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 have previously won a Martinsville Speedway Playoff race.

NASCAR Cup Series Martinsville Speedway Playoff Race Winners
Track Playoff Race Winner Date Race No.
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 24, 2004 32
Martinsville Jeff Gordon Sunday, October 23, 2005 32
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 22, 2006 32
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 21, 2007 32
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 19, 2008 32
Martinsville Denny Hamlin Sunday, October 25, 2009 32
Martinsville Denny Hamlin Sunday, October 24, 2010 32
Martinsville Tony Stewart Sunday, October 30, 2011 33
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 28, 2012 33
Martinsville Jeff Gordon Sunday, October 27, 2013 33
Martinsville Dale Earnhardt Jr Sunday, October 26, 2014 33
Martinsville Jeff Gordon Sunday, November 1, 2015 33
Martinsville Jimmie Johnson Sunday, October 30, 2016 33
Martinsville Kyle Busch Sunday, October 29, 2017 33
Martinsville Joey Logano Sunday, October 28, 2018 33
Martinsville Martin Truex Jr Sunday, October 27, 2019 33
Martinsville Chase Elliott Sunday, November 1, 2020 35

Seven times the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway has gone on to win the title that same season – the most of any track on the Playoff schedule.

  • In 2006, Jimmie Johnson won from the ninth starting position at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win his first of seven NASCAR Cup Series championships. It was only win during the 2006 Playoffs.
  • In 2007, Jimmie Johnson won from the fourth starting position at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The Playoff victory was the first of a record setting four straight postseason wins during the 2007 Playoffs (Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix).
  • In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won from the first starting position at Martinsville Speedway (Qualifying was cancelled) and went on to win his third consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his second of three victories during the 2008 Playoffs.
  • In 2011, Tony Stewart won from the fourth starting position at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win his third NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was one of a record setting five Playoff victories for Stewart during the 2011 postseason.
  • In 2016, Jimmie Johnson won from the third starting position at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win his record tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his second of three Playoff victories during the 2016 postseason.
  • In 2018, Joey Logano won from the 10th starting position at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship.
  • In 2020, Chase Elliott won from the eighth starting position at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship.

The worst finish in a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway by a driver that went on to win the title that same season was 33rd by Kevin Harvick in 2014 – that season Martinsville Speedway was the eighth race in the Playoffs.

Twice non-Playoff drivers have won the Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway:

  • In 2005, Jeff Gordon was ranked 15th in the points at the time of his Playoff win at Martinsville.
  • In 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 11th in points at the time of the win. Earnhardt Jr. had made the Playoffs in 2014 but was eliminated in the Round of 12.

The significance of the ninth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs

The elimination race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 8 has played a pivotal role in helping decide the outcome of the postseasons through the years and this season will be no different. Last season, Martinsville Speedway joined Darlington Raceway (2004) and Phoenix Raceway (2005-2019) as just the third different track to host the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 8 elimination race adding to the prestige of the series’ penultimate event.

A total of 10 different drivers have won the ninth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Jimmie Johnson (2004, 2007, 2008, 2009) and Kevin Harvick (2006, 2012, 2013, 2014) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins in the ninth race of the postseason with four victories each.

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Race No. 9 – Race Winners
Track Race Winners Date
Darlington Jimmie Johnson Sunday, November 14, 2004
Phoenix Kyle Busch Sunday, November 13, 2005
Phoenix Kevin Harvick Sunday, November 12, 2006
Phoenix Jimmie Johnson Sunday, November 11, 2007
Phoenix Jimmie Johnson Sunday, November 9, 2008
Phoenix Jimmie Johnson Sunday, November 15, 2009
Phoenix Carl Edwards Sunday, November 14, 2010
Phoenix Kasey Kahne Sunday, November 13, 2011
Phoenix Kevin Harvick Sunday, November 11, 2012
Phoenix Kevin Harvick Sunday, November 10, 2013
Phoenix Kevin Harvick Sunday, November 9, 2014
Phoenix Dale Earnhardt Jr Sunday, November 15, 2015
Phoenix Joey Logano Sunday, November 13, 2016
Phoenix Matt Kenseth Sunday, November 12, 2017
Phoenix Kyle Busch Sunday, November 11, 2018
Phoenix Denny Hamlin Sunday, November 10, 2019
Martinsville Chase Elliott Sunday, November 1, 2020

Five times the winner of the ninth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has gone on to win the championship that same season:

  • In 2007, Jimmie Johnson won from the sixth starting position at Phoenix Raceway and went on to win his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The Playoff victory was the fourth of a record setting four straight postseason wins during the 2007 Playoffs (Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix).
  • In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won from the pole at Phoenix Raceway and went on to win his third consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his third of three victories during the 2008 Playoffs.
  • In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won from the third starting position at Phoenix Raceway and went on to win his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The victory was his fourth during the 2009 postseason.
  • In 2014, Kevin Harvick won from the third starting position at Phoenix Raceway and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his second of three Playoff victories during the 2014 postseason.
  • In 2020, Chase Elliott won from the eighth starting position at Martinsville Speedway and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his second of three Playoff victories during the 2020 postseason.

The worst finish in the ninth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs by a driver that went on to win the title that same season: At Phoenix, 38th by Jimmie Johnson in 2016 and at Darlington, sixth by Kurt Busch in 2004.

Four non-Playoff drivers have won the ninth Playoff race in the NASCAR Cup Series postseason.

  • In 2005, Kyle Busch was ranked 19th in the points at the time of the win at Phoenix.
  • In 2011, Kasey Kahne was ranked 14th in the points at the time of the win at Phoenix.
  • In 2015, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh in points at the time of the win at Phoenix. Earnhardt Jr. had made the Playoffs in 2015 but was eliminated in the Round of 12.
  • In 2017, Matt Kenseth was seventh in points at the time of the win at Phoenix. Kenseth had made the Playoffs in 2017 but was eliminated in the Round of 12.

Penultimate race Clinch Scenarios: Martinsville Speedway

With the pressure of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs reaching its boiling point, the series turns to Martinsville Speedway for the Playoffs’ Round of 8 elimination race, the Xfinity 500 (Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to decide who will battle it out for the title in the Championship 4 Round at Phoenix Raceway next weekend. Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson and NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Champion is the only driver this weekend that can rest easy as he is already locked into the Championship 4 Round on his wins at Texas and Kansas to open the Round of 8. With just three spots available and seven drivers vying for those limited positions expect some aggressive racing this weekend as it is the last chance for them to keep their championship hopes alive.

 

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the 4-driver field of the next round: Kyle Larson.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the fourth winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch.

  • Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 20 points, 22 points if Kyle Busch wins.
  • Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 23 points, 24 points if Kyle Busch wins.
  • Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 54 points.
  • Ryan Blaney: Would clinch with 55 points, would need help if Kyle Busch wins.
  • Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 55 points, would need help if Kyle Busch wins.
  • Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano: Could only clinch with help.

If there is a new winner from Ryan Blaney or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the third winless driver in the standings.

  • Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 22 points
  • Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 25 points
  • Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski: Could only clinch with help.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano.

Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson is having a historic Cup season

When Kyle Larson joined Hendrick Motorsports prior to the 2021 season everyone knew he would make a jump in success in the NASCAR Cup Series, but few envisioned the leap would be this astronomical.

Prior to the 2021 season, Kyle Larson’s best season statistically in the NASCAR Cup Series was 2017 when he put up four wins, 15 top fives and 20 top 10s. He led 1,352 laps and posted an average start of 11.3 and an average finish of 13.3. He finished the 2017 season eighth in the final standings. His best season in the Cup driver point standings/Playoffs was 2019 where he finished sixth after collecting one win, eight top fives and 17 top 10s. But neither of those seasons even come close in comparison to Larson’s stellar performance in 2021.

This season, Larson’s list of accolades is fairly long. He has produced career-bests in every single traditional statical category – wins (nine), top fives (19), top 10s (25), laps led (2,397), average start (6.4) and average finish (9.2). He also leads the series in key season-to-date Loop Data categories like Driver Rating (112.3), and Fastest Laps Run (1,198).

But that’s not all Larson has been able to accomplish, his performances this season have allowed him to etch his name alongside some of the sport’s greatest in the record books.

For example, his win last weekend at Kansas Speedway made him the fourth different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to win three or more consecutive races multiple times in a single season; joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt (1987) and Richard Petty (1967, 1971) and David Pearson (1968).

NASCAR Cup Series Consecutive Victories (Three Or More Multiple Times A Season)
Rank Driver No. From To Season
1 Richard Petty 3 Thursday, July 13, 1967 Sunday, July 23, 1967 1967
Richard Petty 10 Saturday, August 12, 1967 Sunday, October 1, 1967 1967
2 David Pearson 4 Sunday, May 5, 1968 Saturday, May 18, 1968 1968
David Pearson 3 Thursday, August 8, 1968 Sunday, August 18, 1968 1968
Richard Petty 3 Sunday, March 7, 1971 Sunday, March 21, 1971 1971
Richard Petty 3 Thursday, April 15, 1971 Sunday, April 25, 1971 1971
Richard Petty 6 Wednesday, July 14, 1971 Sunday, August 8, 1971 1971
3 Dale Earnhardt 4 Sunday, March 29, 1987 Sunday, April 26, 1987 1987
Dale Earnhardt 3 Saturday, August 22, 1987 Sunday, September 13, 1987 1987
4 Kyle Larson 3 Sunday, May 30, 2021 Sunday, June 20, 2021 2021
Kyle Larson 3 Sunday, October 10, 2021 Sunday, October 24, 2021 2021

This weekend Larson is looking to become just the ninth different NASCAR Cup Series driver in the Modern Era (1972-Present) to win four or more races consecutively and the 13th different driver to accomplish the feat all-time.

Rank Driver No. From To
1 Richard Petty 10 08/12/1967 10/01/1967
2 Richard Petty 6 07/14/1971 08/08/1971
3 Bobby Allison 5 05/30/1971 06/23/1971
4 Billy Wade 4 07/10/1964 07/19/1964
5 David Pearson 4 04/03/1966 04/11/1966
6 David Pearson 4 05/05/1968 05/18/1968
7 Cale Yarborough 4 09/12/1976 10/03/1976
8 Darrell Waltrip 4 09/27/1981 11/01/1981
9 Dale Earnhardt 4 03/29/1987 04/26/1987
10 Harry Gant 4 09/01/1991 09/22/1991
11 Bill Elliott 4 03/01/1992 03/29/1992
12 Mark Martin 4 08/08/1993 09/05/1993
13 Jeff Gordon 4 07/26/1998 08/16/1998
14 Jimmie Johnson 4 10/21/2007 11/11/2007

Plus, Larson’s 2,397 laps led this season are the most in a NASCAR Cup Series single season since NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon’s 2,610 laps led in 1996. Larson is only the fourth active driver to lead more than 2,000 laps in a single season; joining Kevin Harvick (2014, 2015), Kyle Busch (2017) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017).

And let’s not forget, Larson’s nine wins this season are tied with Kevin Harvick’s nine wins in 2020 for the most since Jimmie Johnson’s 10-win season in 2007. NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (1998) and Richard Petty (1975) hold the record for the most win in the NASCAR Cup Series in the Modern Era (1972-Present) with 13 wins each. If Larson wins either this week or next, he will become the only active driver with double digit wins in a single season and the 11th driver in the Modern Era to accomplish the feat.

Larson has made 13 starts at Martinsville Speedway posting two top fives and three top 10s. He finished fifth at Martinsville back in April.

Playoff Bubble: The time to step up is now

Seven drivers vying for three spots with one last chance to make it happen. That’s the scenario the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Round of 8 drivers not named Kyle Larson are facing this weekend as the series heads to Martinsville Speedway for the Xfinity 500 (Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Win and advance is the only sure thing this weekend at Martinsville Speedway for the Playoff drivers and since Larson has won the first two races of the Round of 8 at Texas and Kansas at least two of the three open Championship 4 Round spots will be secured on points. And the points sure are tight along the cutline.

Currently two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch holds the fourth and final transfer spot in the Playoff driver standings a mere one point up on Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney in the fifth position in the point standings – the first spot outside the Championship 4 Round cutoff. Then not far behind Blaney is Martin Truex Jr. (-3 points) in sixth, Brad Keselowski (-6) in seventh and Joey Logano (-26) in eighth.

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Kansas Speedway-2
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Kyle Larson 4,181 9 17 65 In On Wins
2 Chase Elliott 4,107 2 4 22 34
3 Denny Hamlin 4,105 2 10 30 32
4 Kyle Busch 4,074 2 7 23 1
5 Ryan Blaney 4,073 3 4 24 -1
6 Martin Truex Jr. 4,071 4 5 29 -3
7 Brad Keselowski 4,068 1 2 8 -6
8 Joey Logano 4,048 1 5 13 -26

Kyle Larson has already secured his spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 Round. It is the first time in his career he has advanced this far in the Playoffs. Larson has made 13 starts at Martinsville posting two top fives and three top 10s. He finished fifth at the half-mile track earlier this season.

Chase Elliott currently sits second in the Playoff standings with a 34-point edge on the Championship 4 Round cutoff. 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion is looking to advance to Championship 4 Round for the second time in his career this season. Elliott has made 12 series starts at Martinsville collecting one win (2020), five top fives and seven top 10s; including winning this Playoff race last season. He finished runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. at the half-mile track earlier this season.

Denny Hamlin resides in third in the Playoff standings with a 32-point cushion above the Championship 4 Round cutline. Hamlin is looking to advance to the Championship 4 Round for the fourth time in his career (2014, 2019, 2020). Hamlin has made 31 series starts at Martinsville posting five wins (2008, 2009, 2010 sweep, 2015), 16 top fives and 22 top 10s. He finished third at the half-mile track earlier this season.

Kyle Busch heads to Martinsville fourth in the Playoff standings with just a one-point advantage on the Championship 4 Round cutoff. Busch a two-time series champion is looking to make the Championship 4 Round for a series leading sixth-time in his career (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019); he is currently tied with Kevin Harvick for the series-most Championship 4 Round appearances at five each.  Busch has made 32 starts at Martinsville grabbing two wins (2016, 2017), 16 top fives and 19 top 10s. He finished 10th at the half-mile track back in April.

Ryan Blaney finds himself fifth in the Playoff standings just one point back from Kyle Busch in the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 Round. Blaney is looking to advance to final round of the Playoffs for the first time in his career. Blaney has made 11 series starts at Martinsville posting five top fives and six top 10s. He finished 11th at the half-mile track earlier this season.

Martin Truex Jr., the most recent winner at Martinsville Speedway (April, 2021), currently sits sixth in the Playoff standings a mere three points behind Kyle Busch in the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 Round. Truex is looking to qualify for the Championship 4 Round for the fifth time in his career (2015, 2017, 2018, 2019). Truex has made 31 series starts at Martinsville putting up three wins (2019, 2020, 2021), eight top fives and 14 top 10s.

Brad Keselowski currently is seventh in the Playoff standings, six points back from Kyle Busch in the fourth and final transfer spot to the Championship 4 Round. The 2012 series champion is looking to make the Championship 4 Round for the ?? time in his career. Keselowski has made 23 starts at Martinsville amassing two wins (2017, 2019), 11 top fives and 16 top 10s. He finished 33rd at the half-mile track back in April due to a late race incident.

Joey Logano is last but not least in the Playoffs’ Round of 8 standings (eighth) with 26 points between himself and the Championship 4 Round. Logano is looking to qualify for the Championship 4 Round for the fifth time in his career (2014, 2016, 2018, 2020).  Logano has made 25 series starts at Martinsville producing one win (2018), eight top fives and 13 top 10s. He finished sixth at the half-mile track earlier this season.

The historic ‘Paperclip’ known as Martinsville Speedway

Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville Speedway, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously-operating race tracks in the United States.

The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville Speedway was on July 4, 1948. The first NASCAR Cup Series race was September 25, 1949 – the race was won by Red Byron in Raymond Park’s 1949 Oldsmobile.

The track was paved in 1955 and the first 500-lap event at Martinsville Speedway was in 1956. Concrete corners were added atop the asphalt in 1976 and the track added LED lighting during the 2016-2017 off season.

There have been 145 NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one race in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950.

In total, 61 different drivers have won at least one pole at Martinsville Speedway. 28 of the 61 NASCAR Cup Series Martinsville Speedway pole winners have won multiple poles. NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Martinsville Speedway with eight poles (1979, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1992). Team Penske’s Joey Logano leads the series among active drivers with the most poles at Martinsville Speedway with five – 2015 sweep, spring 2016, fall 2017, spring 2019.

A total of 54 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won at Martinsville Speedway. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 15 victories (1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 sweep, 1968, 1969 sweep, 1970, 1971, 1972 sweep, 1973, 1975, 1979). Denny Hamlin leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins among active drivers at Martinsville Speedway with five victories (2008, 2009, 2010 sweep, 2015). Nine of the 54 NASCAR Cup Series Martinsville Speedway race winners are active this weekend.

Rank Active Martinsville Winners Wins Seasons
1 Denny Hamlin 5 2015, ’10 sweep, ’09, ’08
2 Martin Truex Jr 3 2021, ’20, ’19
3 Brad Keselowski 2 2019, ’17
4 Kurt Busch 2 2016, ’02
5 Kyle Busch 2 2017, ’16
6 Chase Elliott 1 2021
7 Joey Logano 1 2018
8 Ryan Newman 1 2012
9 Kevin Harvick 1 2011

The starting lineup for this weekend’s Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway was determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kyle Larson will start from the pole and Chase Elliott will join him on the front row.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe currently leads the 2021 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 307 points over Front Row Motorsport’s Anthony Alfredo. Briscoe has mathematically clinched the 2021 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors but will not be officially awarded until he finishes the season in good standing, per the program guidelines and eligibility.

NCS Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Rookies Points Awards
Chase Briscoe 639 29
Anthony Alfredo 332 5

Briscoe’s rookie campaign has produced three top-10 finishes in 34 starts. His average starting position in 2021 is 22.2 and his average finish is 19.1. He has led 18 laps and has won 29 Sunoco Rookie of the Race awards.

Manufacturers Championship Update – With Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson winning Chevrolet’s 17th race of the 2021 season last weekend, they are now 87 points ahead of Toyota and Ford and have mathematically clinched 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturers Championship.

Manufacturers Championship
OEMs Wins Points
Chevrolet 17 1,256
Toyota 10 1,169
Ford 7 1,169

Nine different manufacturers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturers Championship. This is Chevrolet’s series leading 40th NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturers Championship,

NCS Manufacturer Champions
OEM No. of Manufacturers Championships Most Recent
Chevrolet 40 2021
Ford 17 2020
Toyota 3 2019
Hudson 3 1954
Buick 2 1982
Dodge 2 1975
Oldsmobile 1 1955
Plymouth 1 1971
Pontiac 1 1962

Earnhardt Jr., Bowyer made laps in Next Gen car at Bowman Gray Stadium this week – Following a Next Gen car Goodyear Tire Test at Bowman Gray Stadium former drivers turned TV Sports Analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NBC Sports) and Clint Bowyer (FOX Sports) got a chance to run some laps in the new Next Gen car at Bowman Gray Stadium. The opportunity provided the former drivers with a chance to get to know the Next Gen car better and be able to speak to its comparisons to the previous generation of race cars as the series prepares for the Next Gen car’s debut next season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for The Clash on Feb. 6, 2022.

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