The NASCAR Cup Series' last three playoff finalists will be determined Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Joey Logano moved on to the final four with a victory at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 8. No one joined him in the automatic bid group last time out since Kyle Busch earned his first win of the season at Texas Motor Speedway.
Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski sit in the advancing positions going into the Xfinity 500. Keselowski comes in on the bubble with a 25-point advantage over Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott. Martin Truex Jr. sits 36 points back of Keselowski, and Kurt Busch is 81 points adrift of the cutoff.
Although Truex has plenty of ground to gain, he could throw a wrench in the postseason plans of some drivers given he has won the past two races at the short track in Virginia.
Xfinity 500 Information
Date: Sunday, November 1
Start Time: 2 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBCSports.com and NBC Sports app
Martin Truex Jr.: +325 (bet $100 to win $325)
Denny Hamlin: +550
Brad Keselowski: +550
Chase Elliott: +700
Kyle Busch: +800
Joey Logano: +800
Ryan Blaney: +900
Kevin Harvick: +900
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Harvick, Hamlin and Keselowski are in the best positions to join Logano in the final four at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 8. The four competitors who advance to final round are the only drivers eligible to win the championship.
The trio just need solid runs to accumulate more points and fend off any challenges from the four drivers beneath the cut line.
Harvick is 15 points ahead of Hamlin and needs 39 points to secure his spot in the championship round. Since Hamlin is only two points above Keselowski, the two have to battle for positioning throughout the race in case Bowman, Elliott, Truex or Busch wins.
Keselowski produced wins at Martinsville in 2017 and 2019 and took third behind Truex and Ryan Blaney on June 10 on the Virginia short track.
The No. 2 car driver shared his thoughts about Sunday's race with Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass: "We just need to have a solid day at Martinsville. The two cars in front of us are real close in points. If we have a solid day, we'll be just fine."
Truex could be the biggest threat to steal a position away from Hamlin or Keselowski because of his recent history at the track. The No. 19 car driver led 132 of the 500 laps in June's event at Martinsville and is in possession of back-to-back wins on the short track.
The 2017 Cup Series champion would have been in a better position to move on had his team not suffered a 20-point pre-race penalty in Texas. While he has had success at Martinsville, Truex knows how unpredictable the track can be, as he told NASCAR.com's Zack Albert:
"Yes and no. I mean, a must‑win at any track, no matter how good you've been there in the past, I think is a challenge. The last race there that we ran and to lead all the laps that we did, whatever, it's no guarantee. We've got to work hard this week to make sure we're prepared. I know the guys have already been doing that. So definitely optimistic. It's a good track for us, but it's a short track and a lot can happen on restarts and things. We'll go there and do the best job we can."
Bowman, Elliott and Busch all finished in the top 10 in June, but only the latter has a Martinsville victory on his resume from 2014.
Elliott acknowledged in conversation with Autoweek's Matt Weaver that he will enter Sunday looking to win and not to rely on points: "For us, we need to go win. That's kind of the bottom line. I'm not even going to look at points because, in my opinion, it really doesn't matter."
Bowman, Truex and Busch should share that same mentality, which sets up Sunday's race to be one of the most thrilling of the 2020 season.
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