Martinsville: Which two drivers will make Championship 4?

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Martinsville

With 500 tight laps around Martinsville Speedway – NASCAR’s shortest oval at 0.526 miles in length – in their sights, here’s a breakdown and outlook for the drivers in round 8 as they try to qualify for Championship 4. The four drivers who advance to the Nov. 5 season finale at Phoenix Raceway will be eligible for the championship.

Round of 8 (NASCAR’s version of a semifinal round) and the four drivers with the fewest points won’t win.

feeling happy

The two drivers have no worries as they have already qualified for Championship 4 thanks to wins earlier in the round, which started on October 8 in Las Vegas and then at Homestead.

Christopher Bell (Win at Homestead)
Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota

Bell won in walk-off fashion at Martinsville last year to advance to Championship 4. He won’t need another moment this weekend — he’ll just want it to come in Phoenix because he now has a championship berth for the second straight season.

Kyle Larson (win in Las Vegas)
Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet

Larson won at Martinsville in April, so he should feel good going there and build some momentum in Phoenix. The 2021 Cup champion lost all speed with his crash in a sand barrel while entering pit road Sunday at Homestead after his win in Las Vegas.

feel good

This driver figures well that if he runs a clean race at Martinsville, barring too much craziness, he should advance.

William Byron (+5th out of 30)
Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet

Byron needs 36 points to secure a place in the next round regardless of what anyone else does. In 11 starts at the track, he has scored at least 36 points four times, including three of his last five races there. He has one win at Martinsville (April 2022) and six top-10s. Is Byron a little worried? He was 23rd at Martinsville and scored just one stage point at the track in the spring.

hopeful

This driver enters with a cushion but not a large enough one, especially if one of the four drivers below him wins at Martinsville.

Ryan Blaney (+10 in 5th)
Team Penske No. 12 Ford

Blaney had a good run at Martinsville a year ago when he finished third and scored 43 points but didn’t make the cut. If he does it again, he will make it, as long as no other driver below him wins the race. He has scored at least 42 points in seven of his last nine starts at Martinsville. If he has a day in the spring where he finishes 12th with 30 points, he may have to wait another year to make his first Championship 4.

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