The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs field is heading to “The Half Mile of Mayhem” on a quick turnaround for a crucial elimination race that sets the stage for the Championship 4. Tune in to live coverage of the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway at 2 p.m. ET Sunday (NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Before the Round of 8 finale, check out some important information you need to know.
Martinsville is a .526-mile asphalt track, the shortest on the series circuit, with concrete paving in the turns. Contained in a width of 55 feet, the track features 800-foot straightaways and tight, nearly flat turns that are banked at only 11 degrees. The high maneuverability of the track most often leads to door-to-door racing.
Sunday‘s race will be the 144th Cup Series competition held at the track, with Red Byron taking home the inaugural checkered flag in 1949.
Stage 1 will end at Lap 130, Stage 2 at Lap 260 and the final stage at Lap 500.
Brad Keselowski won the Busch Pole Award and will lead the field to the green Sunday. Martin Truex Jr. will join Keselowski on the front row.
The lineup was determined using NASCAR‘s competition-based formula, which is a total number based on the previous event: 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver‘s final race finish position, 25% of the owner‘s final race position and 35% of the owner points position.
RELATED: Full starting grid
The 2020 NASCAR rules package for short tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to set a target of 750 horsepower. The cars will use a reduced downforce package with a shorter spoiler, a shorter splitter overhang and other aerodynamic changes.
Each team will be outfitted with nine sets of Goodyear Eagle Short Track Radials.
Later into the fall season, adjusting for cooler track temperatures is a key factor in developing the right tire compound that produces the desired wear. It is important for the tires to have the ability to lay rubber in all areas of the track, creating alternate racing grooves throughout the race.
“The last time we raced at Martinsville, it was June and both ambient and track temperatures were not a concern,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “We‘ve had a lot of cold weather races at this track over the past several years, so we did some work on developing tread compounds that would lay rubber in the concrete corners in those conditions. The results have been good, as we‘ve seen the surface turn from white to black in the corners, giving drivers the ability to move up the track to find grip. The resulting second lane has helped produce some great racing along the way.”
PLAYOFF STATS TO KNOW
— Only Joe Gibbs Racing has competed with multiple Championship 4 drivers in the same year (2016, 2019), and Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. are still in contention for 2020. This trend will change if Brad Keselowski joins Team Penske teammate Joey Logano for the final run at Phoenix Raceway.
— Neither Hamlin or Kevin Harvick have won in the last three races, tying the longest winless streak between the two for the entire 2020 season.
— With his win at Kansas Speedway, Logano tied Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Fred Lorenzen for 31st in all-time Cup Series wins with 26. Logano currently has a three-year multi-race win streak and has won multiple times in six of the last seven seasons.
— Alex Bowman is the only remaining title contender who has never finished inside the top five at Martinsville. He heads into this weekend in a potential must-win situation, sitting 25 points below the cutline.
Source: Racing Insights
For a more interactive experience, head over to NASCAR.com or the NASCAR app to check out an enhanced Race Center, live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the customizable live leaderboard with Scanner, and the return of Drive (featuring in-car cameras).
2019 RACE WINNER
Martin Truex Jr. put on a historic display of dominance in last year‘s playoff race at Martinsville, leading 464 laps and picking up his first win at the track. Truex swept each stage and punched his ticket to the Championship 4.
RELATED: Who does this race favor?
ACTIVE MARTINSVILLE WINNERS
Jimmie Johnson (nine wins); Denny Hamlin (five wins); Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch (two wins each); Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman (one win each).