NASCAR Cup Series Qualifiers in Martinsville Odds, Picks: Who will make Championship 4?

There are two races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Playoff Series. This weekend in Martinsville, the playing field will move from eight to four, setting up the championship race in Phoenix.

Joey Logano has already booked his place among the final four drivers thanks to his Las Vegas win and leads the points standings. Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott and William Byron are also among the top four entering the Xfinity 500 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR Score Ranking

driver points

Joey Logano

4106

Ross Chastain

4101

Chase Elliot

4093

William Byron

4087

Denny Hamlin

4082

Ryan Blaney

4069

Christopher Bell

4054

Chase Brisco

4043

At just over half a mile, Martinsville is the shortest track on the NASCAR schedule. How will this affect the race as so many drivers are vying for a place in the championship race? the athleteJeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchi have some answers about what to expect from the Xfinity 500.

Martinsville is the shortest path on the NASCAR schedule. What drivers and cars does the short track benefit from?

Glock: I’m not sure we can answer that question reliably at this point, because it changed completely with the next generation car. This year, the new car largely turned short tracks into track races and made the Martinsville spring race one of the worst of the season because the drivers couldn’t even get close enough to each other to communicate (let alone pass). So when you’re looking for who to bet on this weekend, it might be best to wait until you see the qualifying results on Saturday. Those who start in the top five will have a much greater advantage than usual over a driver who starts around 20 (at least based on how we think the race will go). So keep your hands in your pockets until Saturday afternoon.

Bianchi: The game has changed when it comes to short track racing. Track laying has always been an important aspect of racing in Martinsville, but with the old drivers still able to make passes and someone not driving from behind was uncommon. But in the spring Martinsville was mainly about the circuit situation as the passage proved very difficult, and the belief is that Sunday’s race will unfold similarly. Having said that, and not knowing who will qualify where, Hendrick Motorsports had a good grip on this track in the spring with William Byron and Chase Elliott together to lead 397 laps out of the 400. Both are expected to be in contention on Sunday.

Who are the three drivers who will join Joey Lugano in Championship 4?

Glock: We don’t currently expect a messy Martinsville race, which reduces the chance of someone with a proper point pad getting stuck (by getting stuck in a wreck, for example). So I’ll put Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott into the fourth round as long as they don’t face disaster in the playoffs. who else? Well, the drivers in the must-win situations (Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Blaney) have never won in Martinsville. Doing so now would be a very difficult task and would create a watershed moment for all times. That seems unlikely, so I’ll go with the last position coming down to William Byron and Denny Hamlin at the heart of the coin. Although Hamlin has racked up five career victories, Byron won in Martinsville in the spring and has the best average finish of any driver in the four paved short track races this season.

Bianchi: This is what I wrote earlier this week Sunday race preview:

Looking at the standings, who is currently participating, who is leaving – and to what extent – the picture of who advances to Championship 4 is mostly clear. We know Lugano has already hit his ticket, and except for something disastrous, Ross Chastain is in great shape. Elliott’s 11-point advantage, combined with how well he did in Martinsville, gives confidence that he will join Logano and Chastain in the next round.

Last place comes to Byron, Hamlin, and Blaney. Both Byron and Hamlin can go ahead on points, while winning is the only realistic path for Blaney. This is a tough situation, so Blaney is out.

The deciding factor is that while Hamlin is considered the master of Martinsville, Byron won there in the spring and Hamlin struggled. It’s hard to imagine Hamlin closing the performance gap enough that he can outperform Byron.

Do you expect the driver cuts to go down to the last lap like we had the last round in Charlotte or will things settle further into the final leg of this weekend’s race?

Glock: This often seems to be the case, and with only five points between Byron and Hamlin, it could certainly happen again. Assuming they both qualify well and earn stage points in the first half of the race, it’s entirely possible to see last place drop to two places – or even a tiebreaker. However, if the pass is difficult, it may end up calling strategy to determine the last position rather than the dramatic pass on the right track.

Bianchi: The points are too tight to think that this will not end in the final laps on Sunday. Expect a scenario like what we usually see in this race: a lot of chaos around the last laps constantly fitting the order and you don’t know who advanced until the checkered flag is waved.

What long strokes have a realistic chance of winning this weekend?

Glock: I don’t think it would be shocking to see Brad Keselowski win this week (he’s +2800, so I’ll take that as a long shot). Keselowski’s teammate Chris Bucher won the latest short track race last month in Bristol. Keselowski drove 109 laps in this race by himself until he had a tire problem. When you look at Keselowski’s range of work in Martinsville, he has finished the first five races of roughly half of his career races there (12 of 25 times) and won twice. These things lead me to believe he could put in another solid performance on Sunday.

Bianchi: A.J. Almendir. And yes, you read that correctly. The Twice Allmendinger takes second place here, which in itself makes for an interesting sleeper. Then, when you consider that he’s coming into quite the hot streak having finished ninth or better in his last six cup games, his +4000 odds of winning offer some tempting value.

Who would you choose to win the race?

Glock: We still don’t have much data with this next-generation car on short tracks, as there have only been four races paved this season (one Martinsville, one Bristol and two Richmond). While Martinsville stands alone as a unique trail—with its paperclip look and lack of banking—you can look at a selection of short runs and flat trails to see who might do well. Oddly enough, this may refer to Joey Logano (+900), who has already entered the fourth round. It’s causing some hesitation because Lugano and his team are probably focused on Phoenix and haven’t put in much effort in Martinsville, which means nothing to them in terms of the championship. However, Logano also won’t have to chase stage points like some of the other contenders and can simply follow a strategy to try to win. Given his record on the flat/short tracks recently (win at Gateway, 222 laps in Richmond before finishing sixth), it’s possible that Lugano could take a win in Martinsville as well. After all, he took second place there in the spring.

Bianchi: Logano is a very good choice for all the reasons Jeff mentioned. But Hendrick Motorsports’ spring dominance cannot be ignored. Knowing this, the choice is Chase Elliott, who scored his second win in Martinsville to book himself in Championship 4 for the third year in a row.

Xfinity 500 odds

The possibilities are from BetMGM.

driver Prospect

Chase Elliot

+600

Denny Hamlin

+700

Ryan Blaney

+800

William Byron

+800

Joey Logano

+900

Martin Truex Jr.

+1200

Kyle Larson

+1400

Christopher Bell

+1400

Kyle Bush

+1400

Ross Chastain

+1400

Kevin Harvick

+1600

Tyler Riddick

+2500

Brad Kiselowski

+2800

Eric Almerola

+3300

Bubba Wallace

+3300

Chase Brisco

+3300

AJ Almendir

+4000

Austin Dillon

+4000

Chris Bucher

+4000

Daniel Suarez

+4000

Austin Cendrick

+5000

Noah Gregson

+6600

Cole Custer

+10000

Eric Jones

+10000

Ty Gibbs

+10000

Justin Haley

+25000

Michael McDowell

+35000

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

+35000

Harrison Burton

+50000

Todd Gilliland

+100000

Ty Dillon

+100000

Corey Lagoy

+150000

PJ MacLeod

+200,000

kodi ware

+200,000

JJ follows

+200,000

Landon Castle

+200,000

(Chase Elliott photo: John David Mercer/USA Today)

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