Where the NASCAR playoffs stand heading to Martinsville
Opportunities to race for a championship this season remain aplenty as all three NASCAR national series head to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this weekend.
With two of three races complete in the semifinal round of the playoffs, only one driver is locked into the Championship 4 in two of the three series Cup and Xfinity. The Truck series has two drivers locked in the title race.
That leaves numerous possibilities for drivers to still advance to next weekend’s title races at Phoenix, either with a win or by points.
Here’s a look at where the playoff picture stands for all three series:
1. Joey Logano (Ford) 1 Win
2. Kevin Harvick (Ford) + 42 points above cutoff
3. Denny Hamlin (Toyota) + 27
4. Brad Keselowski (Ford) + 25
5. Alex Bowman (Chevrolet) - 25
6. Chase Elliott (Chevrolet) - 25
7. Martin Truex (Toyota) - 36
8. Kurt Busch (Chevrolet) - 81
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang awarded the regular season trophy
Photo by: NASCAR Media
Thanks to his nine wins this season and series-best 67 playoff points, Harvick is in the best position to advance to the Championship 4 without winning at Martinsville. He is 42 points above the cutoff and if he simply has a solid race, he should get the chance to race for another championship at Phoenix.
The bigger surprise for Harvick was his inability to secure a win at Kansas or Texas – two tracks where his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team has run well. He has one career win at Martinsville but he’s had tremendous success at Phoenix, where the championship will be decided.
Busch (81 points behind the cutoff) and Truex (36 behind the cutoff) likely need to win Sunday to have a title shot. Truex, however, won the last two Martinsville races and has five top-five finishes in his last six starts there.
Hamlin and Keselowski are separated by just two points, but both are at least 25 points ahead of Bowman, who is tied with Elliott, 25 points behind Keselowski.
1. Chase Briscoe (Ford) 1 Win
2. Austin Cindric (Ford) + 14 points above cutoff
3. Justin Allgaier (Chevrolet) + 8
4. Justin Haley (Chevrolet) + 4
5. Brandon Jones (Toyota) - 4
6. Ross Chastain (Chevrolet) - 15
7. Noah Gragson (Chevrolet) - 24
8. Ryan Sieg (Chevrolet) – 43
Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Ford Performance Racing School
Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images
Saturday’s race at Martinsville will be new territory for the remaining playoff drivers in the Xfinity Series as the track hasn’t hosted a series race since 2006. That opens the door for a lot of uncertainty with three spots still to fill in the Championship 4.
Cindric appears in good position sitting 14 points above the cutoff but with five playoff drivers within 29 points, a lot can change in one race. Allgaier has had a tough first two races in the semifinal round but scored a pair of short-track wins this season at Richmond.
Haley has had a solid semifinal round but all three of his wins this season have come on superspeedways. Chastain and Sieg have yet to win a race this season so a victory Saturday would be the most timely.
Gragson, who likely needs a win to race for the title at Phoenix, nearly picked one up last weekend at Texas, but was passed for the lead on the last lap by eventual winner Harrison Burton.
1. Sheldon Creed (Chevrolet) 1 Win
2. Brett Moffitt (Chevrolet) 1 Win
3. Austin Hill (Toyota) + 27 points above cutoff
4. Zane Smith (Chevrolet) + 12
5. Matt Crafton (Ford) - 12
6. Grant Enfinger (Ford) - 42
7. Ben Rhodes (Ford) - 45
8. Tyler Ankrum (Chevrolet) - 79
Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing, Ford F-150 Chi Chi's/Menard's
Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images
In Trucks, Creed and Moffitt are locked in the Championship 4 thanks to wins and Hill appears in good position to join them based on points with a solid race on Saturday. This will be Smith’s first-ever race at Martinsville and he’ll need a strong performance in order to advance.
Crafton, who has two career wins at Martinsville, is within striking distance on points, only 12 behind Smith, but Enfinger, Rhodes and Ankrum will all likely need a win this weekend to have a chance to race for the championship.
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