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Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway

Kyle Larson wins the battle against Martin Truex Jr. to win the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 playoff race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Seven drivers will be searching for spots in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Four Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in the final race of the Round of 8.

Joey Logano secured one of the four positions with a win at Las Vegas. None of the playoff contenders won last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway as Kyle Larson scored in a runaway, so three championship spots are available Sunday.

A victory by any of the seven would mean an automatic spot in the Phoenix championship group. If none of the playoff contenders win, the other three positions would be determined by points.

MORE: NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

Entering Martinsville, Ross Chastain is plus-19 to the cutline. Chase Elliott is plus-11. William Byron is plus-5. Below the cutline are Denny Hamlin (-5 to the cutline), Ryan Blaney (-18), Christopher Bell (-33) and Chase Briscoe (-44).

Drivers to watch Sunday at Martinsville:


Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd
  • Last three races: 2nd at Homestead, 2nd at Las Vegas, 37th at Charlotte
  • Past at Martinsville: Best career finish in seven starts is 5th

Chastain hasn’t won since April, but he’s knocking on the door with second-place runs the past two weeks. He’s the most comfortable of the seven contenders entering Martinsville because of a 19-point cushion to the cutline, but his brief history at the track isn’t remarkable.

William Byron

  • Points position: 4th
  • Last three races: 12th at Homestead, 13th at Las Vegas, 16th at Charlotte
  • Past at Martinsville: Won in April

Byron led 212 laps in winning the Martinsville spring race. A repeat would be welcome at Hendrick Motorsports as Byron is bouncing on the cutline at plus-5 entering the race.

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 5th
  • Last three races: 7th at Homestead, 5th at Las Vegas, 13th at Charlotte
  • Past at Martinsville: Five wins, the last in 2015

Hamlin arrives at one of his favorite tracks needing a good run. He’s five points below the cutline and hasn’t won since May at Charlotte.


Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 14th at Homestead, 21st at Las Vegas, 20th at Charlotte
  • Past at Martinsville: Won in 2020

Since winning at Talladega four races ago, Elliott has dropped into the middle of the pack with three consecutive finishes of 14th and worse. He hasn’t led a lap in the past two races.

Ryan Blaney

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 17th at Homestead, 28th at Las Vegas, 26th at Charlotte
  • Past at Martinsville: Finished second twice

Blaney’s improbable march continues. Winless this year except for the All-Star Race, he retains a shot at the Championship Four but is -18 points below the cutline entering Martinsville.

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 20th
  • Last three races: Suspended at Homestead, 36th at Las Vegas, 7th at Charlotte
  • Past at Martinsville: Best career finish in nine starts is 11th

Wallace watched last week’s race on television as he served a one-race suspension for his altercation with Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He returns this week under a certain amount of scrutiny at a track where he has scored two Truck Series wins but no finish better than 11th in Cup.