The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway this weekend for the penultimate race of the 2021 season.
Martinsville, which is the shortest and oldest track on the circuit, holds extra importance as it is the final chance for playoff drivers to race their way into the Championship 4. Chase Elliott won at Martinsville last year to clinch his spot in the title race before winning his first championship the following week.
With the small size of the track (0.526 miles), there is often tight racing that leads to tempers flaring. Seven of the eight eligible playoff drivers are still looking to lock up their Championship 4 berth, with Kyle Larson being the only one locked in. In addition to the eight playoff contenders, there will be 30 other drivers racing Sunday, focused solely on winning at The Paperclip.
Here’s everything you need to know for Martinsville:
What is the Martinsville schedule?
The race weekend at Martinsville will not feature practice or qualifying sessions, as the sport attempts to cut costs for teams in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Xfinity 500 at Martinsville will go green at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 31.
What channel is NASCAR on this weekend?
The race at Martinsville is on NBC starting at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 31.
Pre-race coverage starts with NASCAR Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC. NASCAR Cup Series Post Race will begin immediately following the checkered flag on NBCSN. All coverage before, during and after the race can be streamed online here or in the NBC Sports App.
What is the Martinsville starting lineup?
The starting lineup for the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville was set using NASCAR’s qualifying metric, which is a formula combining each driver’s finish last week, each driver’s fastest lap last week and each driver’s points position. Here is the full starting lineup for Martinsville:
- Kyle Larson
- Chase Elliott
- Denny Hamlin
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Busch
- Ryan Blaney
- Kevin Harvick
- Kurt Busch
- William Byron
- Christopher Bell
- Alex Bowman
- Austin Dillon
- Chris Buescher
- Ross Chastain
- Bubba Wallace
- Tyler Reddick
- Michael McDowell
- Daniel Suarez
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Chase Briscoe
- Aric Almirola
- Cole Custer
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Ryan Preece
- Ryan Newman
- Erik Jones
- Corey LaJoie
- BJ McLeod
- Cody Ware
- Anthony Alfredo
- Josh Bilicki
- Joey Gase
- Justin Haley
- Quin Houff
- Garrett Smithley
- Timmy Hill
NASCAR playoff standings entering Martinsville
Martinsville marks the third and final race in the Round of 8, as four drivers will be eliminated and the final four will be set. Larson has already clinched a spot in the Championship 4 by virtue of his wins at Texas and Kansas the past two weeks. That leaves seven playoff drivers fighting for three spots available in the Championship 4, and the battle is tight around the bubble. Elliott can clinch with a 15th-place finish and Hamlin can clinch with a 12th-place finish, but everyone else can only secure a spot with a win.
Here’s how they stack up entering Martinsville:
- Kyle Larson (clinched)
- Chase Elliott (34 points ahead of 5th)
- Denny Hamlin (32 points ahead of 5th)
- Kyle Busch (one point ahead of 5th)
- Ryan Blaney (one point behind 4th)
- Martin Truex Jr. (three points behind 4th)
- Brad Keselowski (six points behind 4th)
- Joey Logano (26 points behind 4th)
Which active drivers have won at Martinsville?
Just nine of the 38 drivers racing this weekend have won at Martinsville: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Keselowski, Logano, Hamlin, Elliott and Truex. Hamlin leads all active drivers with five Martinsville wins, but he hasn’t won there since 2015. Truex has owned the track lately, winning three of the last four races there. Kyle Busch (two) and Keselowski (two) also have multiple Martinsville wins, while Kurt Busch, Harvick, Newman, Logano and Elliott have one apiece.
Who is favored to win NASCAR this weekend?
Shaped like a paperclip, Martinsville is the most unique oval on the Cup Series circuit. Young drivers often struggle with the challenge of the track. But once it clicks, drivers can go on historic runs of dominating the track.
In recent years, Truex has held the crown at Martinsville, which holds two races annually. He’s won three of the last four races there, including the last event in April 2021. Hamlin used to be the Martinsville king, winning five times between 2008 and 2015. He holds the best average finish among active drivers at 9.7 in 31 career starts. Beyond Truex and Hamlin, there may be a sleeper ready to emerge as the next Martinsville force. Elliott won at The Paperclip last fall before finishing second to Truex this past spring. In his last seven Martinsville starts, he has one win, four top-fives and six top-10s.
While playoff drivers and established stars usually reign at the short track, there have been a few longshots to reach victory lane. It’s been a while, though. Ricky Craven (2001), John Andretti (1999), Bobby Hamilton Sr. (1998) and Morgan Shepherd (1981) are among the victors at Martinsville with less than five career wins. With a championship berth on the line, it’s difficult to envision a non-playoff contender winning Sunday.
Here are some of the odds to win Martinsville, courtesy of our partner, PointsBet:
- Martin Truex Jr., +425
- Kyle Larson, +580
- Denny Hamlin, +625
- Chase Elliott, +675
- Ryan Blaney, +725
- Kyle Busch, +900
- Joey Logano, +1000
- Brad Keselowski, +1100
- William Byron, +1400
- Kevin Harvick, +2800
- Christopher Bell, +2800
- Alex Bowman, +4000
- Kurt Busch, +5000
- Tyler Reddick, +6000
- Matt DiBenedetto, +10000
- Aric Almirola, +12500
- Bubba Wallace, +20000
- Austin Dillon, +20000
- Daniel Suarez, +30000
- Ryan Newman, +40000
What is the weather for Martinsville?
The Weather Channel is expecting a beautiful weekend in Martinsville, Va. A high of 65 degrees, with mostly sunny skies and an 1% chance of rain are forecasted for Sunday afternoon. It should be a great afternoon for racing.
How to buy tickets for Martinsville
Tickets for the Cup Series race at Martinsville are available on the track’s website right here. Information about parking, camping, scanner rentals, pre-race pit passes and tickets for other races this weekend are also available on the track’s website.
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.