Race Day Schedule
3 pm: Garage Opens
5:25 pm: Drivers To Cars
5:30 pm: Driver Intros
6 pm: Invocation
6:01 pm: National Anthem
6:08 pm: Command
6:17 pm: Green Flag
Coverage: 6 p.m. ET
Green Flag: 6:17 p.m. ET
Phone: NASCAR App
Race Distance: 250 Laps/157.8 Miles
Stage Lengths: 60-60-130
Competition Caution: Lap 20
Race Official: Lap 120
Playoffs: Round 2, Race 3
Track: Martinsville Speedway
4 of the 5 Races Have Been Won By Non Playoff Drivers/Must Win For 2 Drivers On Saturday Too
We’re now five races into the seven race Xfinity Series playoffs and in four of them, a non playoff driver won including both in the Round of 8 so far. Josh Berry won the postseason opener in Las Vegas. Brandon Brown won a week later in Talladega. AJ Allmendinger became the one and only playoff driver to win on the ROVAL while John Hunter Nemechek and Ty Gibbs have each won in the JGR No. 54 Toyota in the Round of 8 at Texas and Kansas respectively.
That means that all four spots into the Championship 4 are still open. At least three spots will be available on points if someone in the playoff field wins on Saturday at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway.
The thing is, the bottom two drivers are facing must wins with the top two drivers essentially locking themselves by. AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric are each +47 with one race left. Both Brandon Jones (-40) and Harrison Burton (-51) are on the extreme opposite end as they’re likely facing a deficit of too many points to make up in one race now. Jones, hasn’t won since Darlington in 2020 (41 races) while Burton’s win in this very Martinsville race last Halloween (32 races) was his last win.
Jones, has had four top sixes in his last six races but was only 10th and 11th in this round while scoring only three total stage points in the semifinal round.
Burton, has one finish better than fifth in his last 16 starts on the season and has only scored four stage points in each of the two Round of 8 races. To be 8th and 34th this round, that’s not going to cut it.
The four drivers between are points racing as stage points are going to be key to this Saturday’s race.
Noah Gragson has been great this round but Saturday’s crash in Kansas leaves him -24 after being +2 entering the race. He’s lost 26 points despite 11 stage points on the day and 11 more a week prior in a third place effort at Texas. That’s how fickle everything is in this postseason. Gragson, has nine top seven’s in his last 11 starts on the season still but needs a lot to make up 24 points in one race.
It’s not impossible, but with who he’s chasing, can he truly make up that much ground in terms of points?
Justin Haley is the only other driver on the outside looking in. He’s -7. Haley, finished fourth though at Kansas for his ninth straight top 10 on the season including eight of the last nine in the top seven. He’s also been in the top 10 in 15 of the last 16 heading to Martinsville. But, the reason he’s in this position below the cut line is due to just having scored three stage points all day.
Daniel Hemric is on the plus side of the cut line (+7) due to stage points he accumulated. He only finished 15th on Saturday but is on the good side of the cutline due to having 17 stage points via the two stages run in Kansas. That’s the difference between he and Haley right now. 17-3 in stage points has the guy who finished 15th seven points ahead of the guy who finished 4th. They entered one point apart.
Justin Allgaier is +9 after scoring his 10th straight top 10 on the season and 13th in his last 14 tries.
It’s down to Allgaier, Hemric, Haley and Gragson on points with Jones and Burton having to win. Allmendinger and Cindric are likely by.
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – OCTOBER 23: Ty Gibbs, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 23, 2021 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
54 Car Winning at JGR, But They Need The Others To
JGR has won 11 times in the Xfinity Series this season. Unfortunately though, all 11 were from the No. 54 Toyota. That car serves as the entry where part time drivers fill. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Ty Gibbs, Ty Dillon and John Hunter Nemechek have all driven this car. They’ve combined to win those 11 races including being 2-for-2 this round via two different drivers.
The other three cars in the operation all feature full-time drivers. These guys are going for this year’s Xfinity Series championship. With none of them winning, it’s costing them precious points.
JGR has 3 cars in the Round of 8 and 2 of them are below the cutline and facing must wins.
- 9 Gragson – He won in Richmond this year, was second on this track in April and runner-up here last October.
- 7 Allgaier – He has four straight top four finishes on short tracks in 2021 to go along with being second in this race last year.
- 20 HBurton – He won this race last year and was seventh back in April with 81 and 52 laps led respectively. But, he’s had just one finish better than fifth in his last 16 starts on the season too which is why I’m hesitant to move him up any further.
- 22 Cindric – He has 2 wins and a runner-up in 3 short track starts this season. Only reason I have him lower is due to Martinsville not being one of his better tracks in NXS competition or Trucks.
- 18 Hemric – He was third in April and has six top sixes in his last nine starts on the season.
Austin Cindric (Team Penske)
AJ Allmendinger (Kaulig Racing)
Noah Gragson (JR Motorsports)
Justin Allgaier (JR Motorsports)
Chevrolet get 3 cars to the Final Four with the fifth straight year they got multiple drivers to advance. JRM gets multiple drivers by for the third time in five years too including 2 of the last 3. For Allgaier, it’s his third straight final round appearance now and 4th in 5 years. For Cindric, he’s back to defend his crown like Tyler Reddick did in 2019. Allmendinger gives Kaulig a car in the finals for the second straight year too while Toyota is shutout for a second straight year as well.