Strategy and determination ruled the track at Martinsville Speedway for the Round of Eight final elimination Xfinity 500. Unlike the bang and bump Xfinity series the day before where cars crossed the line backwards and on fire, the NASCAR Cup race of the same title series name was run closer to calculated endurance.
The final third of the race ran green as a run for the lead brought Ryan Blaney up to and around Aric Almirola with 22 laps to go. Blaney kept the #12 Discount Tire Ford out front for the win. This was the third 2023 win for Blaney, who came up originally from High Point, NC which is just a bit south of the speedway.
It was, however, a disappointing day for Joe Gibbs team mates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex, Jr. The race started with Truex on the pole but a speeding penalty half way in put him back in traffic that he could not push through. Hamlin had a good run with a stage win and top five performance but could not clinch at the end. Mechanical issues the week before at Homestead had him at Martinsville with too many points down and in a “must win” to advance.
Ryan Blaney won the race but it may have been William Byron who won the day. Despite six wins, the late season points math had him below the cut coming into Martinsville. He fought with the #24 Chevy all day as his team kept him focused. He managed to bring it in leading the one lap back bunch which was just enough to clinch a spot for Phoenix.
Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell had Round of Eight wins for the advance and were “safe” at Martinsville. Larson and Bell finished 6th and 7th. Almirola hung on for 2nd, Hamlin was 3rd as Chase Briscoe and Joey Logano filled the top five.
The Championship is settled at Phoenix. Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and William Byron are in the mix for the Cup. Any of the others can grab a final win of the season. Will it be an upset…? Or will one of the Championship Four take the final checkered flag?
Photo Gallery – NASCAR Cup Xfinity 500 – October 29, 2023 – Martinsville Speedway