Clinch scenarios for Sunday’s Xfinity 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN)

Martinsville Speedway offers one last opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 for seven postseason challengers to earn their spot in the Championship 4 Round at Phoenix Raceway on November 6. Only one of the coveted four spots are spoken for, thanks to Team Penske’s Joey Logano taking the victory at the Round of 8 opener in Las Vegas. That leaves three spots open, and with Kyle Larson, who is already eliminated from the Playoffs, winning last weekend at Homestead-Miami, we know at least two of three spots will be claimed by drivers on points.

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the four-driver field of the next round: Joey Logano.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the fourth winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott or William Byron.

·       Ross Chastain: Would clinch with 36 points

·       Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 45 points

·       William Byron: Would clinch with 51 points

·       Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help

·       Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help

·       Christopher Bell: Could only clinch with help

·       Chase Briscoe: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Denny Hamlin or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the third winless driver in the standings.

·       Ross Chastain: Would clinch with 41 points

·       Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 50 points

·       William Byron: Could only clinch with help

·       Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help

·       Ryan Blaney: Could only clinch with help

·       Christopher Bell: Could only clinch with help

·       Chase Briscoe: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe.

There’s just three spots up for grabs among the seven remaining Playoff challengers and since the introduction of the ‘elimination-style’ format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, racing your way into the Championship 4 Round in the ninth and final cutoff race of the Round of 8 has proven to be much more difficult than one might expect with only four drivers accomplishing the feat in the last eight seasons.

2014: Heading to Phoenix Raceway (the ninth race of the Playoffs) in 2014, Kevin Harvick was ranked eighth in the Playoff standings, six points back from NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 Round. Kevin Harvick won the race at Phoenix and automatically advanced to the final round. Jeff Gordon finished runner-up, but it was not enough and was bounced out of the Playoffs. Harvick would go on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series title in 2014 by winning again the following weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the championship finale – it was the inaugural year of the elimination-style format in the postseason.

2015: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline heading into the ninth race of the 2015 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Carl Edwards (-7 points from Martin Truex Jr. in the fourth and final transfer position on points), Brad Keselowski (-19), Kurt Busch (-28) and Joey Logano (-63) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 Round and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Truex finished 14th, Logano finished third, Kurt Busch finished seventh, Keselowski finished ninth and Carl Edwards finished 12th.

2016: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline without a win heading into the ninth race of the 2016 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Matt Kenseth (-1 point from the cutoff), Denny Hamlin (-2), Kevin Harvick (-18) and Kurt Busch (-34) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 Round and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Harvick finished fourth, Kurt Busch finished fifth, Hamlin finished seventh and Matt Kenseth finished 21st.

2017: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline heading into the ninth race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Denny Hamlin (-19 points from the cutoff), Ryan Blaney (-22), Chase Elliott (-49) and Jimmie Johnson (-51) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Elliott finished second, Blaney finished 17th, Hamlin finished 35th and Jimmie Johnson finished 39th.

2018: The four drivers below the Championship 4 Round cutline heading into the ninth race of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 elimination race at Phoenix Raceway – Kurt Busch (-3 points from the cutoff), Chase Elliott (-17), Aric Almirola (-35) and Clint Bowyer (-51) – all failed to advance to the Championship 4 Round and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Phoenix race. At Phoenix, Almirola finished fourth, Elliott finished 23rd, Kurt Busch finished 32nd and Clint Bowyer finished 35th.

2019: Heading to Phoenix Raceway (the ninth race of the Playoffs) in 2019, Denny Hamlin was ranked fifth in the Playoff standings, 20 points back from Joey Logano in the fourth and final transfer position to the Championship 4 Round. Denny Hamlin won the race at Phoenix and automatically advanced to the final round. Joey Logano finished ninth, but it was not enough and was eliminated from the Playoffs. Hamlin would go on to finish the season fourth in the championship standings.

2020: Heading to Martinsville Speedway (the ninth race of the Playoffs) in 2020, Joey Logano had secured his spot in the Championship 4 Round by winning at Kansas Speedway in the Round of 8 leaving three spots up for grabs. The drivers ranked below the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round cutline were Alex Bowman (-25), Chase Elliott (-25), Martin Truex Jr. (-36) and Kurt Busch (-81). Chase Elliott would go on to win the Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway clinching his spot in the Championship 4 and bouncing Kevin Harvick (17th-place finish) out of the final round. Kurt Buch (fifth-place finish), Alex Bowman (sixth) and Martin Truex Jr. (22nd) all failed to make the Championship 4 Round and were eliminated from the Playoffs following Martinsville.

2021: Heading to Martinsville Speedway (the ninth race of the Playoffs) in 2021, Kyle Larson had secured his spot in the Championship 4 Round by winning at Kansas Speedway in the Round of 8 leaving three spots up for grabs. Kyle Busch was ranked in the fourth and final transfer positions on points, and the drivers ranked below the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Championship 4 Round cutline were Ryan Blaney (-1 point from the Championship 4 cutline), Martin Truex Jr. (-3) Brad Keselowski (-6) and Joey Logano (-26). Alex Bowman, a non-Playoff driver would win the Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway and Martin Truex Jr. would race his way into the Championship 4 Round by earning more stage points during the race and finishing fourth at Martinsville Speedway eliminating his teammate Kyle Busch from the postseason. Kyle Busch (runner-up finish), Ryan Blaney (11th-place finish), Brad Keselowski (third-place finish) and Joey Logano (10th-place finish) all failed to make the Championship 4 Round and were eliminated from the Playoffs following Martinsville.

Seven times the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway has gone on to win the title that same season – tied with Homestead-Miami Speedway for the most of tracks on the Playoff schedule – (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2016, 2018, 2020).

·       In 2006, Jimmie Johnson won from the ninth starting position at Martinsville Speedway, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his first of seven NASCAR Cup Series championships. It was his only win during the 2006 Playoffs.

·       In 2007, Jimmie Johnson won from the fourth starting position at Martinsville Speedway, then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship that same season. The Playoff victory was the first of a record setting four straight postseason wins during the 2007 Playoffs (Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix).

·       In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won from the first starting position at Martinsville Speedway (Qualifying was cancelled), then the sixth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his third consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his second of three victories during the 2008 Playoffs.

·       In 2011, Tony Stewart won from the fourth starting position at Martinsville Speedway, then the seventh race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his third NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was one of a record setting five Playoff victories for Stewart during the 2011 postseason.

·       In 2016, Jimmie Johnson won from the third starting position at Martinsville Speedway, then the seventh race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his record tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his second of three Playoff victories during the 2016 postseason.

·       In 2018, Joey Logano won from the 10th starting position at Martinsville Speedway, then the seventh race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his first of two Playoff victories during the 2018 postseason.

·       In 2020, Chase Elliott won from the eighth starting position at Martinsville Speedway, then the ninth race in the Playoffs, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his second of three victories during the 2020 postseason.

The worst finish in a Playoff race at Martinsville Speedway by a driver that went on to win the title the same season was 33rd by Kevin Harvick in 2014 – that season Martinsville Speedway was the seventh race in the Playoffs.

Five times the winner of the ninth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has gone on to win the title that same season: (2007, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2020).

·       In 2007, Jimmie Johnson won from the sixth starting position at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race of the postseason, and went on to win his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The Playoff victory was the fourth of a record setting four straight postseason wins during the 2007 Playoffs (Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix).

·       In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won from the pole at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race of the postseason, and went on to win his third consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The win was his third of three victories during the 2008 Playoffs.

·       In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won from the third starting position at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race of the postseason, and went on to win his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship. The victory was his fourth of four wins during the 2009 postseason.

·       In 2014, Kevin Harvick won from the third starting position at Phoenix Raceway, then the ninth race of the postseason, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. Harvick faced elimination from the Playoffs heading into this race and become the first to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 by winning the Round of 8 elimination race. The win was also his second of three Playoff victories during the 2014 postseason.

·       In 2020, Chase Elliott won from the eighth starting position at Martinsville Speedway, then the ninth race of the postseason, and went on to win his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. With the win Elliott became the second driver to earn a spot in the Championship 4 Round by winning the Round of 8 elimination race – joining Kevin Harvick (2014). The win was his second of three Playoff victories during the 2020 postseason.

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