Eight of 2019 championship hopefuls have visited Victory Lane at legendary speedway
MARTINSVILLE – There is a common thread that runs through this year’s 16-team playoff field in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – many of the teams and drivers have tasted victory at Martinsville Speedway, site of the Oct. 27 First Data 500.
Defending series champion Joey Logano used a victory on the legendary .526-mile layout last fall to catapult his No. 22 Team Penske entry into the championship round where he went on to capture the series title.
Teammate Brad Keselowski, meanwhile, dominated the 2019 spring stop at Martinsville.
Kyle Busch, the 2019 regular-season winner and 2015 series champion, is a two-time winner at Martinsville (2016, ’17) while Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin has five career victories here, tops among those in this year’s playoff field.
Busch, this year’s points leader following the playoffs reset, and Hamlin, No. 2 in the standings, aren’t the only title-contending drivers with multiple Martinsville victories – Kurt Busch, older brother of Kyle, has also sped away with two of the track’s popular and highly-prized grandfather clocks that are presented to race winners.
The First Data 500 headlines a racing weekend that includes the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.
It is the opening race of this year’s third playoff round for the Cup Series and a victory on the deceptively difficult Martinsville layout would once again guarantee the victor a clear path to Homestead-Miami Speedway and a shot at the series’ championship.
Other former Martinsville winners in this year’s playoff field are Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, a winner here in 2011, teammate Clint Bowyer (the 2018 spring race winner) and Ryan Newman. The Roush Fenway Racing competitor scored his lone Martinsville victory in the spring of 2012.
Both Bowyer and Newman secured their playoff spots with solid top-10 finishes in Sunday’s MENCS race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
There are other playoff participants hoping for their first Martinsville win and the guaranteed ticket into the championship round that would come with it.
Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones, JGR teammates along with Busch and Hamlin, have yet to see the inside of the winner’s circle at Martinsville. But Truex, with four wins this season, has been solid in recent Martinsville outings with three top-five finishes in his last four starts.
Jones, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive victory in the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
Chase Elliott, twice a winner this season, nearly put his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in Victory Lane at Martinsville in this year’s spring event, eventually finished second to Keselowski.
Alex Bowman and William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Ryan Blaney (Team Penske) and Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing) complete this year’s playoff field.
Tickets to the First Data 500 and all Martinsville Speedway events can be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com or by calling 877.RACE.TIX.