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USA TODAY Sports’ Ellen Horrow previews the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
USA TODAY Sports

It’s NASCAR race day at Martinsville Speedway, and we’ve got some essential information you need to get ready for Sunday’s Monster Energy First Data 500, the first race of the third round of the playoffs:

START TIME: First Data CEO and Chairman Frank Bisignano will instruct drivers to start their engines at 3:07 p.m. ET, followed by the green flag at 3:13 p.m.

RACE DISTANCE: The First Data 500 is 500 laps around the 0.526-mile Martinsville Speedway for a total of 263 miles.

SEGMENTS: Beginning this season, NASCAR is dividing every race into segments and awarding one bonus point to the winner of each stage. Segment lengths will be different for every race. Also, the top 10 finishers of segments 1 and 2 will be awarded regular-season points in descending order from 10 to 1. Here are the segments for the STP 500: Stage 1: 130 laps; Stage 2: 130 laps; Stage 3: 240 laps.

JOHNSON: Nine-time winner looks to conquer Martinsville again

HAMLIN: Holds key to racing success at Martinsville

BLANEY: Takes legendary Wood Brothers team to new heights

PLAYOFFS: Elite eight will battle for supremacy at Martinsville

NATIONAL ANTHEM/FLYOVER: The Gaither Vocal Band will perform the national anthem at 3:01 p.m. ET, followed by a flyover by The Bandit Flight Team.

TV/RADIO SCHEDULE: NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will broadcast the race on TV and has a pre-race show beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network and Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio will call the race on the radio.

LIVE STREAMING: NBCSports.com will live-stream the race for those who sign in with their cable/satellite provider’s credentials.

PHOTOS: TOP SHOTS FROM 2017 NASCAR SEASON

WEATHER: The National Weather Service is calling for a 90% chance of rain before 1 p.m., which could impact the start time, depending on how late and how much precipitation falls and how long it will take to dry the track. The temperature will also be on the colder side, with high of only 50 degrees along with possible wind gusts.

LAST TIME: Team Penkse driver Brad Keselowski led the final 43 laps and 116 overall in April to win his first career Cup race at Martinsville. And one year ago, Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson won for the ninth time, tying former teammate Jeff Gordon for third on the all-time list, to book a spot in the final en route to his record-tying seventh championship.

STARTING LINEUP: In a pre-determined move, qualifying is scheduled to be held just three hours before the race at noon ET Sunday, pending weather. 

PLAYOFF FIELD: Five of the eight remaining drivers have won Cup races at Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson (nine wins), Denny Hamlin (five), Kyle Busch (one), Brad Keselowski (one) and Kevin Harvick (one).

Follow Horrow on Twitter @EllenJHorrow