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Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway

Nate Ryan and Jeff Burton unpack what occurred between Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece. Burton calls it racing amid a lot of emotion as Preece fights for his NASCAR life, but says teams shouldn't be inflaming situations.

Martinsville Speedway will host the last of three consecutive Cup short track races Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr. is among a big group of drivers who haven’t reached Victory Lane this season, but he has a strong record at Martinsville, having won three of the past seven races at the half-mile track.

MORE: Christopher Bell first in NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

Joe Gibbs Racing (Truex’s team) and Hendrick Motorsports have won the past seven Martinsville races. Christopher Bell, Sunday’s winner at Bristol Motor Speedway, won last October’s race for JGR.

Here’s a look at drivers to watch Sunday at Martinsville:


Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd
  • Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Auto Club, Richmond 1)
  • Past at Martinsville: Two consecutive top fives

When last we left Martinsville (in October), Chastain was powering around the outside wall in a madcap last lap to finish high enough to remain in the playoffs. The dust has settled from that event, and Martinsville could open the door for his first win of this season.

Christopher Bell

  • Points position: 1st
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Bristol 1)
  • Past at Martinsville: Won last fall to advance in playoffs

Bell led 150 laps last October at Martinsville on the way to a must-win in the playoffs. He has five finishes of sixth or better in the past six races.

William Byron

  • Points position: 14th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Las Vegas 1, Phoenix 1)
  • Past at Martinsville: Finishes of 1st and 7th last year

Byron remains the season’s only multiple winner with two. During the past four races at Martinsville, he has led 221 laps with four finishes of seventh or better.


Joey Logano

  • Points position: 8th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Atlanta 1)
  • Past at Martinsville: Seven consecutive top 10s

The series’ defending champion has fallen to eighth in points and has finished last in two of the past six races. Could Martinsville be a quick cure? Logano won there in October 2018. He has been running at the finish in all of his 28 Martinsville starts.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 7th
  • Best seasonal finish: 7th (Las Vegas 1, Bristol 1)
  • Past at Martinsville: 3 career wins

The season has been a bumpy one for the former champion. A seventh-place run at Bristol ended a streak of four consecutive finishes of 11th or worse. He is typically strong at Martinsville but finished 22nd and 20th in the races there last year.

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 12th
  • Best seasonal finish: 6th (Auto Club, Atlanta 1)
  • Past at Martinsville: 5 career wins

Hamlin is still looking for his first top-five finish of the year. Martinsville offers promise. He has won five times at the half-mile and has two top-five finishes in the past four races.