Martinsville Notes, Facts and Story lines

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: First Data 500
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Oct. 29
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 263 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 130),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 260), Final Stage (Ends on lap 500)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Kicks Off Round of 8

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs kicks off its Round of 8 at Martinsville Speedway with Sunday's First Data 500 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Martin Truex Jr. heads the Playoffs leaderboard (52 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson on the cutoff line). Here's a look at the Round of 8 drivers heading into Martinsville:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Playoff Points Pts from Cutoff
1 Martin Truex Jr. 4069 - 69 -
2 Kyle Busch 4042 - 42 -
3 Brad Keselowski 4026 - 26 -
4 Kevin Harvick 4017 - 17 -
5 Jimmie Johnson 4017 - 17 -
6 Denny Hamlin 4014 - 14 3
7 Ryan Blaney 4009 - 9 8
8 Chase Elliott 4006 - 6 11

Hendrick Motorsports has won the last three Playoffs races at Martinsville since the "win and advance" era was implemented in 2014. Dale Earnhardt Jr. visited Victory Lane at the .526-mile track after he was eliminated from the Playoffs in 2014. Jeff Gordon won at Martinsville for a ticket to Homestead in 2015 and finished third in the final standings. Last year, Jimmie Johnson won the Round of 8 race at Martinsville on his way to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Keselowski Goes For Season Sweep Of Martinsville, Advancement to Championship 4 Race

Brad Keselowski might have Martinsville figured out. He won the last race at the track affectionately known as "The Paperclip," has finished second or better in three of his last five races there and has placed fifth or better in four of his last five races there.

He'll go for the season sweep at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday's First Data 500 as he tries to join Kyle Larson (Michigan) as the second driver to win both races at a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series track this year.

In 15 career starts at Martinsville, Keselowski claims one win, five top fives, nine top 10s and a 12.9 average finish.

Keselowski, who has never advanced to the Championship 4, earned his berth in the Round of 8 by winning at Talladega.

Kyle Busch Tries To Continue Martinsville Hot Streak

Kyle Busch has made Martinsville Speedway his personal playground in his last few races there.

In his past four starts at Martinsville, he finished fifth or better. He led a race-high 352 laps to win its 2016 spring race and paced the field for an event-high 274 laps on his way to a runner-up showing in this April's contest.

Overall, Busch owns one win, 12 top fives, 13 top 10s and a 13.6 average finish in 24 career starts at Martinsville. Among active drivers, he ranks third in Martinsville average running position (11.6) and driver rating (101.1).

Busch has advanced to the Championship 4 the last two seasons. He won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title in 2015 and finished third last year.

Clockstopper: Johnson Attempts To Extend Active Martinsville Wins Lead

Jimmie Johnson leads active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers with nine wins at Martinsville Speedway - four more than Denny Hamlin who has the second most victories at "The Paperclip."

He'll attempt to extend his wins lead by defending his fall victory from last year at Martinsville. Johnson's win placed him in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he took the checkered flag to capture the series title.

If he visits Victory Lane on Sunday, Martinsville would become the second track where he has double-digit wins (Dover, 11).

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).

Hamlin Hopes For Win At Hometown Track

Virginia's own, Denny Hamlin, has five wins at Martinsville Speedway - second among active drivers. A sixth victory in Sunday's First Data 500 would earn him a berth in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Chesterfield native currently sits three points below Kevin Harvick on the cutoff line to the Championship 4 race. In addition to his five Martinsville wins, he claims 12 top fives and 17 top 10s. He ranks second among active drivers in Martinsville average finish (10.1), average running position (9.8) and driver rating (106.6).

Hamlin enters the Round of 8 coming off a strong second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs where he finished sixth or better in his last three starts.

Elliott Eyes First Victory At Martinsville

Chase Elliott has upped his performance in The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and is knocking on the door of his first win.

Through seven Playoff races, Elliott has racked up three runner-ups and has a low finish of 16th at Talladega. He enters Sunday's race at Martinsville coming off a fourth-place showing at Kansas.
The Round of 8 sets up well for Elliott if he can repeat his performances at the track from earlier this season.
In the April race at Martinsville, Elliott finished third and led 30 laps. At Texas, he placed ninth after starting 33rd. He led 106 laps on his way to a 12th-place finish this spring at Phoenix.

Short Tracks

Three drivers remaining in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs rank in the top four in active short track victories.

*Martinsville win totals are marked in parentheses.

Active Short Track Winners Wins
Jimmie Johnson 14 (9)
Kyle Busch 11 (1)
Denny Hamlin 9 (5)
Kurt Busch 9 (2)
Kevin Harvick 6 (1)
Matt Kenseth 6
Dale Earnhardt Jr 5 (1)
Brad Keselowski 4 (1)
Joey Logano 4
Clint Bowyer 2
Kasey Kahne 2
Ryan Newman 2 (1)
Kyle Larson 1

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