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Who will make the NASCAR Championship four at Martinsville?


NASCAR Cup Series Races at Martinsville Speedway 11-01-20 (Photo Credit: YouTube)

This week is the qualifying race in the Round of Eight in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Who will join Kyle Larson in the Championship Four to Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway?

When NASCAR takes shortcuts, things tend to get tangled up. These include buffers, sheet metal and tempers. This weekend, it could see even more drama than usual at Martinsville Speedway.

Kyle Larson locked himself in the Championship fur by winning the first race in the Round of Eight at Texas Motor Speedway. He increased the pressure on the other seven Playoff riders in the Round of Eight by winning last week’s race at Kansas Speedway. It took away a chance to “win and climb in” from another Playoff rider.

On the way to the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway, two drivers have a decent lead over the cut line. The next four riders are separated by just six points. The last rider still active in the Playoffs will likely have to win to get through.

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Outputs on Road to Martinsville Speedway
2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on Road to Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Buck Stevens)

Here’s what all the drivers in the Playoffs and not in the Playoffs will face this weekend.

Martinsville Speedway Data:
Track size: 0.526 miles
Banking / Turn 1 & 2: 12 degrees
Banking / Turn 3 & 4: 12 degrees
Banking / Frontstretch: 0 degrees
Banking / Back stretch: 0 degrees
Pre-stretch length: 800 feet
Backstroke Length: 800 feet

Xfinity 500 Data:
Season Race #: 35 of 36 (10-31-21)
Play-off Race #: 9 of 10
Race Length: 500 laps / 263 miles
Stages 1 and 2 Length: 130 laps (each)
Final Phase Length: 240 Laps

Here, the lap of eight riders is listed from best to worst in overall driver rating at Martinsville Speedway.

Denny Hamlin – 106.1
Kyle Busch – 102.4
Ryan Blaney – 100.0
Brad Keselowski – 98.8
Joey Logano – 97.2
Chase Elliott – 96.9
Martin Truex Jr. – 85.8
Kyle Larson – 75.8
Based on last 32 races at Martinsville Speedway (2005 – 2021)

Here are the active riders who have won a NASCAR Cup Series race during their careers.

Denny Hamlin – 5 victories
Martin Truex Jr. – 3 victories (April 2021 race winner)
Kurt Busch – 2 wins
Kyle Busch – 2 victories
Brad Keselowski – 2 victories
Jaag Elliott – 1 winner (November 2020 race winner)
Joey Logano – 1 Wen
Kevin Harvick – 1 win
Ryan Newman – 1 win
Note: Managers names in red is currently in championship playoffs.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin just need to have a pretty good day, they’ll probably make it through to Championship Four. If one of them has a great day and adds another win to their total, it will take their place immediately.

If Chase and Denny can progress, it will only leave one more place open. Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski should all have better days than the others who are within single digits of each other to progress. If any of them find a way to win, it will lock them in Championship Four.

Joey Logano is not mathematically in a “must win” scenario. However, it will take a very good day for him with the help of others to progress without the victory.

There is always a chance that Kyle Larson or a non-playoff rider will win the race. That would make which riders advance to the Championship Four with Kyle Larson based on just points. The pressure on those seven drivers will be very high as the NASCAR Playoffs shortcut!

We’ll find out who’s making it to Championship Four after the green flag was raised to start the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 31 at 1:00 pm central time (2:00 pm Eastern time).

By: Buck Stevens

Buck Stevens





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