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Xfinity 500 Preview: NASCAR’s Third Playoff Round Closes at Martinsville

Jay Arnold previews the Xfinity 500 from Martinsville Speedway as just one race remains before the season finale in Phoenix.

NASCAR drivers taking on turns 1 and 2 at Martinsville. The NOCO 400 is this weekend at Martinsville.
NASCAR returns to the pavement at Martinsville for the NOCO 400. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

What an incredible season we witnessed over the course of NASCAR in 2023. Just two races remain in the season after Christopher Bell’s victory at the 4Ever 400. The third round of the NASCAR playoffs concludes this Sunday at Martinsville where six drivers still hope to punch their ticket to the Final Four with a win at the Xfinity 500. Let’s take a look at who’s in, who’s out, and who still has a chance to advance.

Playoff Picture Headed Into Xfinity 500

Two drivers have locked themselves into the playoffs by virtue of visits to Victory Lane. Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson both showed impressive speed with Bell getting his victory and Homestead and Larson narrowly beating Bell two weeks ago at Las Vegas. In Martinsville, NASCAR’s best will take on a different challenge in the tight quarters of the 0.5-mile short track in Virginia. Check out the points below.

  1. Christopher Bell – Locked In
  2. Kyle Larson – Locked In
  3. William Byron – 30 Points Above Cut Line
  4. Ryan Blaney – 10 Points Above Cut Line
  5. Tyler Reddick – 10 Points Below Cut Line
  6. Martin Truex Jr. – 17 Points Below Cut Line
  7. Denny Hamlin – 17 Points Below Cut Line
  8. Chris Buescher – 43 Points Below Cut Line

We start with the obvious on this one – Chris Buescher seems unlikely to get the win he needs to advance at Martinsville. His playoff run ends here.

Tyler Reddick saw his best chance to advance come and go at Homestead. The driver of the #45 managed to avoid trouble but unfortunately, he needed to accomplish more. His playoff run also ends at Martinsville.

Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. both possess the ability to win at Martinsville and will likely need to find Victory Lane in order ton advance. However, MTJ’s run of bad luck this postseason has been astounding. It continued with a blown engine at Homestead. I think Hamlin represents the more likely to win of the duo. Spoiler alert: Hamlin wins on Sunday.

Byron will score enough points to be safe while Blaney ends as the odd man out in my opinion.

Entry List

As mentioned above, we don’t have any surprises here for the Martinsville entry list. The usual list of suspects will be participating along with Carson Hocevar subbing in the #42 for Legacy.

As mentioned above, I think Denny Hamlin gets the job done in order to advance on Sunday but several other drivers could be factors, including those in the playoffs. Truex Jr likely finds his way to the front on Sunday as well.

Kyle Larson won the spring race here and could easily secure his second win of the third round. Though William Byron was a non-factor in spring, he likely runs better this time around. I’d also expect Chase Elliott to be a player at Martinsville as the #9 team always seems to run strong at this track.

The final race of Round Three is sure to be packed with drama as the remaining playoff drivers hope to advance to the championship at Phoenix. You won’t want to miss any on-track action so check out the schedule below.

Friday 10/27

NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – 4:35 p.m. CT on USA

Saturday 10/28

NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 12:20 p.m. CT on USA

Dead On Tools 250 (NASCAR Xfinity Series) – 2:30 p.m. CT on USA

Sunday 10/29

Xfinity 500 (NASCAR Cup Series) – 1:00 p.m. CT on NBC

Stay locked into Apollo for more NASCAR and F1 Coverage throughout racing season! Follow @CoachJayArnold and @ApolloHOU on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest!

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