Who Will Win Sunday’s Xfinity 500
Hard to go against the guy with seven wins this season including three top five finishes in his last four Martinsville starts.
Martin Truex Jr.
At one point, Martin Truex Jr. was 0-for-26 in Martinsville. He’s now won two straight. In fact, Truex has six straight top eight finishes on the Virginia paperclip including nine top eight’s in his last 11 Martinsville starts overall.
The 750 horsepower package has suited him so well. The 750 horsepower tracks are his bread and butter right now. We’ve had nine races on these circuits this season and no one has won as many of them as Keselowski. Three of his four wins have come on these tracks. In Martinsville, Keselowski led 446 of 500 laps in last year’s spring race only to follow that up with a pair of third place finishes after. He’s had nine consecutive top 10 finishes at Martinsville with eight of those being in the top five.
He was fourth in June. He was eighth last Fall. He has four top eight finishes in his last five Martinsville starts including a win in in 2018.
Worth a look here. Elliott, was fifth in June and has four top 10 finishes in his last five Martinsville starts overall.
While he’s out of the playoffs, Busch is entering this weekend off of a win. He did finish 14th in last year’s race and 19th earlier this season, but prior to that, Busch had eight straight races with a Martinsville top five.
Can he steal a win? Blaney, was fourth and fifth respectively in the two races last year to go along with being runner-up this past June. He’s had four top five finishes in his last five Martinsville starts overall.
The second to most important race of the season is here. It’s the final race of the Round of 8. We will know at the drop of the checkered flag on Sunday who will be racing for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship next Sunday in the desert at the Phoenix Raceway.
We also know that the likely winner on Sunday will more than likely be a member of the current playoffs. It’s very rare for a race to be won by someone not in the top eight at this point of the season. If anyone outside of them is going to win, Ryan Blaney (2nd in June and 3 straight top 5 finishes) or Kyle Busch (8 top 5’s in his last 10 Martinsville starts) are the top ones to watch.
If not them, their their teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske will surely contend for a victory. JGR and Penske have put four cars in the top five of the finishing order in each of the last three Martinsville races and have won four straight and five of the last six there overall too. Coincidentally enough, we have three spots left to make it to the final round next week and three of the seven drivers battling for them are JGR-Penske drivers.
The only other team worth watching is Hendrick Motorsports. If you throw them into this equation, you get eight of the top 10 finishers from June belonging from Penske, JGR and HMS. Denny Hamlin (JGR), Martin Truex Jr. (JGR), Brad Keselowski (Penske), Chase Elliott (HMS) and Alex Bowman (HMS) are five of the six drivers left vying for the Championship 4.
That’s why Sunday’s race should be intense.
Kevin Harvick has never been good at Martinsville with two top five finishes in his last 16 tries, so don’t think he will be much of a factor. That’s okay because he has enough points to get himself by. He’s +42.
That means Harvick is taking one of the potential two wildcard spots available. Hamlin is +27 and Keselowski +25. It will be hard to knock those two out too.
That means, Alex Bowman (-25), Chase Elliott (-25), Martin Truex Jr. (-36) and Kurt Busch (-81) likely needing to win.
Bowman has never won at Martinsville but has two top fives this round and four top eights over his last five starts on the season.
If you want to win on Sunday, you better be in the top two or three by the end of the second stage. Since we began stage racing in 2017, the eventual winner has finished either first (3 times), second (2 times) or third (once) in six of the seven second stages. In fact, both races last year saw the race winner earn a stage win in the second stage. Same for the playoff race in 2018 too.
On top of that, the winner had a top five finish in the first stage every year too (7-for-7). That means you need to hit it off right from the get go.
Also, the last three winners have all come from a top five starting spot with nine of the last 10 coming from the top 10 overall.