The elimination race of the Round of 8 is here for the NASCAR Xfinity Series too for Saturday’s Dead on Tools 250 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN) at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway. 2 drivers are already into the Championship 4 with both belonging to JR Motorsports. Ty Gibbs +30 is sitting good while 3 drivers are within 7 points for the final spot.
Sam Mayer (-28) and Brandon Jones (-38) both have to win.
The half-mile track located in Virginia has hosted 38 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, producing 24 different race winners and 19 different pole winners. The inaugural Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway was on March 28, 1982 and was won by Sam Ard.
Ty Gibbs sits as the track’s youngest Xfinity Series pole winner, claiming the award earlier this season at 19 years, six months and four days old. With the pole award, he also set the track’s qualifying record at 95.985 mph. Harrison Burton became the youngest winner at 20 years and 22 days old but it’s Sam Ard who set the race record in 1982 with a speed of 79.607 mph.
Only six Xfinity races have been won from the pole or first starting position at Martinsville, most recently by Jimmy Hensley on Nov. 1, 1987. Hensley also holds the record for most lead lap finishes (14) and is tied with Tommy Houston for most top 10s at 17.
Playoff driver Brandon Jones is the most recent winner at the track, snagging the checkered flag by a margin of victory of .677 seconds earlier this season. Playoff drivers AJ Allmendinger, Austin Hill, Sam Mayer and Ty Gibbs also finished inside the top-10 when the series ran at Martinsville earlier this year.
This season will be the third consecutive year that Martinsville Speedway serves as the penultimate, or sixth race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, the elimination race of the Round of 8 (2020 – 2022). The track was not on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule from 2007 to 2019. Two drivers have won the two previous NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff races at Martinsville – Harrison Burton grabbed the victory in 2020 and Noah Gragson won in 2021.
Can JRM Get 3 Cars Into The Championship 4?
Both spots clinched right now belong to JR Motorsports. Can Sam Mayer (-28) or Justin Allgaier (-5) join them? It likely won’t be both so 75% of the final round field would be a fantastic feat for the organization.
Mayer has made 2 starts at Martinsville with a top 5 in each. He also has 8 consecutive top 11 finishes on the season too.
Allgaier has 3 top 10’s in 4 starts on the Virginia paperclip, with 2 of the 3 being in the top 5 at that. He was runner-up in 2020, 5th in this race last year but 29th in the spring. He does have 2 top 3’s in his last 3 starts on the season as well.
Can he finish ahead of AJ Allmendinger?
He was good here in a Cup car and has progressively gotten better and better after each race here in going from 26th to 13th to 7th to 3rd to…1st?
It’s going to be a battle for that final spot.
Can Gragson Win Out?
Noah Gragson won this race last year. He won the race last week for his 5th win in the last 8 races. He won Phoenix this spring. Does he win out?
He has a Truck win here in 2017. He won this race last year as well as having 3 top 3’s in 4 Martinsville Xfinity Series tries. He won the last short track races on the season at Bristol.
Who Gets Into The Championship 4?
Among the 4 drivers below the cutline, Sam Mayer has never finished outside the top 5 in his 2 Martinsville starts. Brandon Jones won the last time out there this past spring. They’re facing must-wins.
Noah Gragson won this race last year and won last week. Josh Berry won the other race there last year too. Both have wins this round to guarantee them spots into the Championship 4. Do they win Saturday or does someone else win to get their ways in?
Ty Gibbs (+30) is sitting good and just needs to be conservative for that wildcard spot.
So who takes the fourth and final spot?
AJ Allmendinger was 7th in this race last year and 3rd in the spring. He also has 12 top 7 finishes over the last 13 races on the year too. That’s going to be hard for Justin Allgaier to top. However, Allgaier himself also has 2 top 5’s in his last 3 starts on the season as well as 3 top 10’s in 4 Martinsville starts including 2 of which in the top 5.
Austin Hill was 4th in April and has 3 top 6’s in his last 6 starts on the year.
So who gets in?
I’ll take Gragson, Mayer, Gibbs and Allmendinger.
- Ford hasn’t won here since 1994 (0-for-last-5).
- None of the last 6 races were won by a top 5 starter.
- 10th, 29th, 9th, 12th were the starting spots of race winners here since the return in 2020.
- Just JR Motorsports (Both 2021 races) and Joe Gibbs Racing (Fall 2020, Spring 2022) have won here.
- 3 of the 4 races in the stage era saw the eventual winner score stage points in the 1st segment (2nd, X, 7th, 7th)
- All 4 races in the stage era saw the eventual winner score stage points in the 2nd segment (9th, 10th, 1st, 1st).
- 3 of the 4 times did the driver to lead the most laps here win in the end. This spring, Ty Gibbs led 197 of 261 laps but failed to win.
- 9 Gragson – He has a Truck win here in 2017. He won this race last year as well as having 3 top 3’s in 4 Martinsville Xfinity Series tries. He won the last short track races on the season at Bristol.
- 19 Jones – Has a top 10 in all 4 tries including 3 straight top 6’s that also includes a win in the spring race. Jones was runner-up to Gragson at Bristol and Phoenix too.
- 16 Allmendinger – He was good here in a Cup car and has progressively gotten better and better after each race here in going from 26th to 13th to 7th to 3rd to…1st?
- 8 Mayer – Has 2 top 5’s in 2 tries here.
- 7 Allgaier – 3 top 10’s in 4 starts, with 2 of the 3 being in the top 5 at that. He was runner-up in 2020, 5th in this race last year but 29th in the spring.
- 51 Clements – He has 2 straight top 10’s here.
- 98 Herbst – 3 top 10’s in 4 tries including being 6th back in April.
- 39 Sieg – 11th in 2020 and 9th back in April.
- 11 Hemric – He was 3rd in both races last year but 13th in the spring race this year.
- 21 Hill – Was 4th in April.
- 8 Berry – While he won here in the spring of 2021, his finishes since are 28th and 19th respectively. With his win in Vegas, I think they use Martinsville as a test session for Phoenix.
- 54 Gibbs – He led 197 laps this spring, 28 laps last spring and 16 in this race last year. While he’s 0-for-3 in collecting a new grandfather clock, Gibbs does have a pair of top 8’s in 3 tries too. It’s just that he’s led a lot of laps with 0 wins too.