Ryan Blaney Wins Martinsville, Rides Ford Performance to the Championship Four

Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, VA — October 29, 2023

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoff elimination races culminate today at Martinsville Speedway in the Xfinity 500. Eight drivers remain alive. Two have locked in spots in the Championship Four, Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson. William Byron is 30 points above the cut-line. Ryan Blaney is in the last advancement spot available for points and sits ten up on Tyler Reddick, who is the first driver out. Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, and Chris Buescher will all need a win to advance to Phoenix.

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts +/- Cutoff
1 Christopher Bell (P) 4,110 2 4 16 In On Wins
2 Kyle Larson (P) 4,105 4 8 24 In On Wins
3 William Byron (P) 4,126 6 8 41 30
4 Ryan Blaney (P)* 4,106 2 5 14 10
5 Tyler Reddick (P) 4,096 2 6 16 -10
6 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 4,089 3 6 36 -17
7 Denny Hamlin (P) 4,089 3 7 32 -17
8 Chris Buescher (P) 4,063 3 1 21 -43

* Ford Mustang Driver

Short Track Action

The NASCAR Xfinity Series held their playoff elimination race at the track on Saturday. The Final Stage featured multiple cautions as the intensity reached a boiling point. Teammates Austin Hill(21) and Sheldon Creed(2) took the white flag running one-two, with Creed needing a win to advance. At the checkers, Justin Allgaier(7) nosed out Creed for the win. Hill tangled with Creed, and both were eliminated.

Expect today’s race to feature its own late-race drama as drivers contend for the final playoff spot and the race win. The fans do. Martinsville sold every ticket available for the race today.

Martinsville and NASCAR

Opened in September 1947 by H. Clay Earles, Martinsville Speedway, originally a dirt track, is one of the oldest continuously operating racetracks in the United States. The first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville Speedway was on July 4, 1948. The first NASCAR Cup Series race was on September 25, 1949, and the race was won by Red Byron.

The track has undergone several changes over the years. In 1955 the track was paved, and the first 500-lap event at Martinsville Speedway was in 1956. Concrete corners were added atop the asphalt in 1976, and the track added LED lighting during the 2016-2017 offseason. In total, there have been 149 NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway, one race in the inaugural year and two races per year since 1950.

A total of 58 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won a race at Martinsville Speedway, and 27 of the 58 different NASCAR Cup Series winners at Martinsville Speedway have won multiple times. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Martinsville Speedway with 15 victories (1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 sweep, 1968, 1969 sweep, 1970, 1971, 1972 sweep, 1973, 1975, 1979). Twelve of the 58 NASCAR Cup Series Martinsville Speedway race winners are active this weekend, led by Denny Hamlin with five Martinsville Cup Series victories (2008, 2009, 2010 sweep, 2015).

Active Martinsville Winners (12) Wins Seasons
Denny Hamlin(P) 5 2015, ’10 sweep, ’09, ’08
Martin Truex Jr(P) 3 2021, ’20, ’19
Brad Keselowski 2 2019, ’17
Kyle Busch 2 2017, ’16
Kyle Larson(P) 1 2023
Christopher Bell(P) 1 2022
William Byron(P) 1 2022
Alex Bowman 1 2021
Chase Elliott 1 2020
Joey Logano 1 2018
Ryan Newman 1 2012
Kevin Harvick 1 2011

(P) Playoff Drivers

Today’s Race

The 500 laps at Martinsville are a grueling test of both man and machine. Stages are set for 130/130/240 laps. Christopher Bell, the defending champion of the race, grabbed the checkered flag in a must-win situation to advance to the Championship Four in 2022. Bell starts in the seventh position today.

Kyle Larson won the spring race at Martinsville and qualified fifth this weekend. Martin Truex Jr. needs a win to advance to the Championship Four, and he starts on the pole, giving him an excellent chance to capture the checkered flag.

Martin Truex Jr. Wins the Pole at Martinsville Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

Stage One

Martin Truex Jr.(19) sprinted out to a 10-car length lead at the drop for the green flag as teammates Ty Gibbs(54) and Denny Hamlin(11) battled side-by-side for second place. Hamlin edged ahead as the field formed up single-file and began to log laps.

Chase Briscoe(14), Kyle Larson(5), Kevin Harvick(4), and Christopher Bell(20) ran third to seventh as the leaders separated themselves from the remainder of the pack.

Truex caught BJ McLeod(78) 26 laps into the race and began lapping the cars at the tail end of the field. Hamlin closed the interval between himself and the leader while they worked through lapped traffic.

With 47 laps down, Hamlin caught Truex and made the pass for the lead. The leaders began to bunch up as working the lappers became more of a challenge as they caught up to faster cars.

As Hamlin continued to lap cars, drivers began to push harder to stay on the lead lap. Alex Bowman(48) and Harrison Burton got together off turn two. Corey LaJoie(7) and Austin Dillon(3) also got involved in the incident bringing out the first caution of the day.

The lead lap cars pitted while the cars a lap down stayed on the track to take the wave around and get back on the lead lap. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was caught speeding on pit road and sent to the rear of the field for the restart. Stenhouse, driving the brightest colored car on the track, could not hide from the NASCAR timing cameras. The orange and yellow of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup sponsored entry practically glowed as it circled the track.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. / Lasco Press Photo

Hamlin held the lead off the pit road. After the position swapping of the choose and the restart, the running order was Hamlin, Ryan Blaney(12), Truex, Briscoe, and Brad Keselowski(6). It stayed that way until the green and white checkered flag signified the end of the Stage

Denny Hamlin / Lasco Press Photo

Stage One Results

1 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 10
2 12 Ryan Blaney (P)* 9
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 8
4 14 Chase Briscoe* 7
5 6 Brad Keselowski* 6
6 20 Christopher Bell (P) 5
7 54 Ty Gibbs 4
8 41 Ryan Preece* 3
9 22 Joey Logano* 2
10 4 Kevin Harvick* 1

(P) Playoff Drivers *Ford Mustang Drivers

Playoff drivers Larson, William Byron(24), Tyler Reddick(45), and Chris Buescher(17) failed to score a Stage point in that sequence.

Stage Two

Having pitted just a few laps ago, most of the leaders stayed out during the Stage ending caution. The remainder of the field was a mixed bag on pit stop strategy. Hamlin, Blaney, Truex, Briscoe, and Gibbs led the pack back to green flag racing.

On lap 194, Blaney passed Hamlin for the lead, putting Hamlin in danger of falling out of the top four in the playoff standings.

On lap 206, Ryan Newman(51) spun off turn four and brought out the caution. Setting the leaders up for an opportunity to pit for fresh tires and a fill-up of Sunoco racing fuel. Martin Truex made a huge mistake and was penalized for speeding on pit road, sending him to the rear of the field for the restart.

When the green flag waved, Hamlin and Blaney staged a classic battle for the lead. Running side-by-side lap after lap until Blaney was able to move back to the front and begin to pull away.

Blaney held Hamlin off as they completed the second Stage.

Ryan Blaney

Stage Two Results

1 12 Ryan Blaney (P)* 10
2 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 9
3 14 Chase Briscoe 8
4 22 Joey Logano* 7
5 6 Brad Keselowski* 6
6 54 Ty Gibbs 5
7 41 Ryan Preece* 4
8 38 Todd Gilliland* 3
9 4 Kevin Harvick* 2
10 20 Christopher Bell (P) 1

(P) Playoff Drivers *Ford Mustang Drivers

Only three playoff drivers scored points in the second Stage.

The Final Stage

Blaney and Hamlin will again lead the field back to the green flag on the restart. They stayed out to preserve their track position.

Ty Gibbs tried to join the battle for the lead and dove under Hamlin in turn three. Gibbs had to check up, and Joey Logano(22) hit Gibbs spinning him around. Keselowski, Ross Chastain(1), todd Gilliland(38), Austin Cindric(2), Michael McDowell(34), and Daniel Suarez(99) were also caught up in the melee.

Another restart with Blaney and Hamlin on the front row, and again Blaney came out on top with the lead.

After running mid-pack most of the day, playoff driver Tyler Reddick was up to the 6th position. Chris Buescher was in 12th. William Byron and Martin Truex were 16th and 17th.

Ty Gibbs caught more bad luck as Carson Hocevar(42) spun Gibbs in turn two, and the caution flag came out for the fifth time this afternoon.

Some teams took the opportunity to pit. But not Blaney and Hamlin, who will lead the restart again. Hamlin got a bad jump, and Blaney drove away. Bubba Wallace(23), the car Hamlin owns with Michael Jordan, was able to pass for the second spot.

Hamlin quickly got around Wallace but trailed Blaney by almost a full second.

With 178 laps to go, Michael McDowell spun in turn two, bringing out the caution again. All of the leaders choose to pit at this point. With drivers on various pit schedules, many stayed out, and Chase Elliott(9) inherited the lead.

Before they could get the race restarted, the pace car broke down on the track and had to be towed to the garage. That is not something you never see at a high-level event like this.

Starting mid-pack, Hamlin and Blaney had to work their way through traffic to get back to the front.

With 125 laps to go, Elliott led. Followed by Corey LaJoie(7), Aric Almirola(10), Erik Jones(43), and Larson rounding out the top five. Hamlin ran seventh and Blaney eighth.

Chase Elliott / Lasco Press Photo

Down to 88 laps remaining in the race, and Aric Almirola takes the lead away from Elliott. Hamlin and Blaney remain in seventh and eighth.

Blaney goes to the high side of the track and passes Hamlin. Clearly faster, Blaney begins to pull away from Hamlin and moves into sixth by passing Chris Buescher. Blaney passes Larson for fifth as Hamlin is still stuck in eighth place.

The Finish

Everyone ahead of Blaney, except Almirola, will have to make a fuel stop to complete the race. However, the #12 car keeps moving forward as Blaney passes Jones for fourth. Hamlin gets by Buescher and sets his sights on Larson.

Blaney moves past LaJoie, while Hamlin moves inside of Larson. Several lapped cars separate the two fastest cars on the track from the leaders with 60 laps to go.

With 43 laps to go, Blaney is on the bumper of Elliott, and he quickly makes the pass into second place. Hamlin is up to fourth. Almirola’s lead over Blaney is three seconds.

Blaney catches Almirola with 29 laps to go. Both are in heavy lapped traffic.

Almirola surrenders the lead to Blaney with 22 laps to go, and it appears Hamlin’s run at a championship will come to an end unless he can catch and pass Blaney.

Ryan Blaney locks up his spot in the Championship, as does William Byron. They join Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson as the four drivers who will race for the Cup Series trophy and the title of NASCAR Champion.

Results of the Xfinity 500 from Martinsville Speedway

1 12 Ryan Blaney (P) 500
2 10 Aric Almirola 500
3 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 500
4 14 Chase Briscoe 500
5 22 Joey Logano 500
6 5 Kyle Larson (P) 500
7 20 Christopher Bell (P) 500
8 17 Chris Buescher (P) 500
9 2 Austin Cindric 500
10 38 Todd Gilliland 500
11 23 Bubba Wallace 500
12 19 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 500
13 24 William Byron (P) 499
14 1 Ross Chastain 499
15 21 Harrison Burton 499
16 4 Kevin Harvick 499
17 9 Chase Elliott (P) 499
18 54 Ty Gibbs 499
19 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 499
20 41 Ryan Preece 499
21 43 Erik Jones 499
22 7 Corey LaJoie 499
23 3 Austin Dillon 499
24 77 Ty Dillon 499
25 34 Michael McDowell 499
26 45 Tyler Reddick (P) 498
27 8 Kyle Busch 498
28 16 AJ Allmendinger 498
29 51 Ryan Newman 497
30 31 Justin Haley 497
31 42 Carson Hocevar 496
32 48 Alex Bowman 496
33 6 Brad Keselowski 306
34 99 Daniel Suarez 274
35 15 JJ Yeley 271
36 78 BJ McLeod 147