by Bob Bocras
NASCAR FOX Sports writer
The seven drivers compete for the remaining three spots to compete for the NASCAR Cup Series The tournament can take different ways to earn those positions.
But the consensus is that they will all have to do one thing This weekend at Martinsville Speedway: They should qualify well Saturday.
This season’s 400 lap race on the 0.526 mile, paperclip oval had only five changes in the entire race. The drivers will be going 500 laps (at least) on Sunday, and NASCAR has changed some gears since April, but the pass is expected to be overpriced.
With points in “Championship 4” at stake, there may be more aggressiveness and more attempts to stand out. But a driver who doesn’t qualify well likely won’t win stage points, focusing more on winning the race.
“You just have to qualify,” he said. Denny Hamlin, who enters the race as the first driver below the cutting line. “We have to be quick to restart, and we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Denny Hamlin on his day at Homestead
Denny Hamlin said his lack of speed in the short term made the difference last Sunday at Homestead.
Thanks to his victory in the semi-finals (ASCAR’s “Round of 8”) in Las Vegas, Joey Logano He is the only driver he knows will be competing for the championship on November 6th in Phoenix.
The other seven drivers who qualify for the championship can advance either with a win or by being among the two (or three if none) in the highest points.
“It was very difficult to pass the first race,” he said. Chase BriscoHis only reasonable hope of qualifying is to win.
“If you can get and maintain a track position, it will be easy, I think, to be able to control the race.”
Here are the forecasts for the seven drivers heading to Martinsville:
Ross Chastain (+19 in the fifth): Chastain can snatch his first position in Championship 4 with 41 points, no matter what any other driver does. His second place finish in the first two races of the Tour gives the Trackhouse Racing driver a tiebreaker against any of the other drivers. He finished fifth in Martinsville, which was a good finish, but he started in 27th, so he only got 32 points that day. If he starts in 27th place this time, it will be difficult to get stage points, and he may end up in the bubble.
Ross Chastain trying to catch Kyle Larson
Ross Chastain said he was so tight that he couldn’t take the necessary steps to catch Kyle Larson at Homestead.
Chase Elliot (+11 in 5th): Elliott could clinch third in a row in the fourth championship with 50 points, no matter what any other driver does. This will require at least 15 stage points, and if he achieves that, he will likely be in a position to challenge for the win. Driver Hendrik was on top, driving 195 laps and sweeping the stages on his way to 10th place (47 points total) in Martinsville in April. The 2020 Cup champion at least knows how to handle pressure situations.
Chase Elliott on his day at Homestead
Chase Elliott said he’s been playing defense all day at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
be a winner
William Byron (+5 in the fifth): Byron is located above the cut-off line, but due to the possibility of a hamlin or Ryan Blaney To win, Byron needs to enter this race with the mindset that he must fight to win. Yes, driver Hendrick could catch and pass Elliott and Chastain with points, but both showed strength in Martinsville. Byron won at Martinsville in April – he drove 212 laps – so he is confident he can repeat. He’s looking for his first trip to the title role.
Denny Hamlin (-5 behind fourth): Hamlin has had five career wins in Martinsville, but he probably doesn’t go in with too much confidence. His team has lacked speed in recent playoff races, and driver Joe Gibbs Racing was 28th in April in Martinsville. However, Hamlin has reached the championship in each of the past three years, never counting anyone with 48 career cup wins.
Ryan Blaney (-18 behind fourth): Blaney left the first two races of this round frustrated, with errors putting him in a pit he might be able to contend for a place in points if he ran well in both stages, but would likely have little chance of progressing without a win. He did well in Martinsville in April, finishing fourth, but matching that probably won’t be good enough for the Penske driver, who has not won a year and is staring at his fourth semi-final elimination in six years.
Ryan Blaney is frustrated by his mistake
Ryan Blaney was frustrated with himself for making a mistake leaving the pit road at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Christopher Bell (-33 behind the fourth): He’s done it before – Bill won a few weeks ago in the Charlotte tournament To advance to this round – So he can do it again. But will he do that? He was twenty in Martinsville in April. As with JGR teammate Bell’s Hamlin, this may not be his year, which is odd to write considering he looked like the favourite after the first round.
Chase Briscoe (-44 behind fourth): Briscoe smashed into Homestead and put his back against the wall, needing a win in Martinsville. He was the ninth there in April, so he would need to show solid improvement. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver won in Phoenix earlier this year, so if he can pull off a miracle in Martinsville, he’ll be one of the favorites to win the title.
Bob Pokras covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He’s spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @Popocrasand subscribe to Newsletter from FOX Sports NASCAR with Bob Pokras.
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