Just three races remain until the NASCAR Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Currently there are eight drivers vying for the four spots in the title race as the Round of 8 begins Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Martin Truex Jr., who is coming off a win at Kansas, owns a comfortable 27-point lead over Kyle Busch and a 43-point lead over Brad Keselowski, who won at Martinsville earlier this season.
At 0.526 miles in length, Martinsville Speedway is the shortest track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Because of its size and shape — 55-foot width, 588-foot turns (12 degrees of banking) and flat 800-foot straightaways — race cars rarely reach 100 mph.
There should be plenty of bumping and grinding Sunday as drivers toward the rear of the standings — Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin — attempt to make up lost ground.
Hendrick Motorsports has won the last three playoffs races at Martinsville since the “win and advance” era was implemented in 2014. That’s good news for nine-time Martinsville winner Jimmie Johnson, who currently sits fifth in the standings.
In addition to his nine wins, Johnson has 19 top fives, 24 top 10s and a series-best 7.5 average finish at Martinsville. He also leads active drivers at the southern Virginia track in driver rating (116.9) and average running position (8.0).
NASCAR playoff standings entering Sunday’s First Data 500
2. Kyle Busch, 4,042 points
3. Brad Keselowski, 4,026 points
4. Kevin Harvick, 4,017 points
5. Jimmie Johnson, 4,017 points
6. Denny Hamlin, 4,014 points
7. Ryan Blaney, 4,009 points
8. Chase Elliott, 4,006 points
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series also begins its Round of 8 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
NASCAR at Martinsville schedule, TV channel info
(All times ET)
Friday, Oct. 27
1-1:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice, FS1
3-3:55 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1
Saturday, Oct. 28
10 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1
11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, NBC Sports App
1 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions, FS1 (200 laps, 105.2 miles)
4-4:55 p.m.: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App
What is the NASCAR starting lineup for Martinsville?
Unlike traditional race weekends, the playoff race at Martinsville isn’t holding qualifying until Sunday, a few hours before the race. NASCAR will hold its three rounds of qualifying at 12:05 p.m ET to determine the starting lineup.
What TV channel is the NASCAR playoff race at Martinsville on?
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 begins at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 29 and can be seen on NBC Sports Network and the NBC Sports app.
What are the stage lengths for NASCAR’s First Data 500 at Martinsville?
The First Data 500, which is 263 miles (500 laps), will be broken into three segments: Stage 1 ends on Lap 130, Stage 2 ends on Lap 260 and the final stage ends on Lap 500.
Which NASCAR Cup Series drivers are racing in the playoff race at Martinsville?
There are 40 Cup drivers entered in Sunday’s race, meaning all but one driver will make the race with Sunday’s qualifying setting their starting positions. Here is the list of participating Cup drivers in alphabetical order by first name: