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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Saturday's Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville Speedway

Starting Lineup for NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville Speedway

Chase Elliott starts on the pole at Martinsville Speedway as the Cup Series will race under the lights at "The Paperclip"

The NASCAR Cup Series stays in the Commonwealth of Virginia for a second straight week but heads south to Martinsville Speedway, continuing the early-season short-track swing in 2022. "The Paperclip" marks the tour's second such track of the year and first half-miler, on the heels of the 0.75-mile Richmond Raceway.

Joe Gibbs Racing may have finally found its stride, finishing Richmond with all four of its Toyotas inside the top 10 and visiting victory lane with Denny Hamlin. The win came after spending the first sixth of 2022's races struggling to acclimate to the Next Gen car, and Martinsville presents a chance for the stable to further their success. While Hamlin hasn't won there since 2015, he has five victories in southern Virginia, a tally that includes three straight between 2009 and 2010. Busch has a pair of triumphs as well, but it's Martin Truex Jr. who's been dominant of late, winning one race at the short track in each of the past three seasons and leading 464 of 500 laps in the fall 2019 edition.

Outside of JGR, Ryan Blaney exited Richmond having led the first 128 laps and none of the remaining 272. The No. 12 was virtually untouchable early, but once pit stops shook things up and the afternoon wore on, Blaney's Team Penske Ford Mustang slipped away from him and he was forced to settle for seventh. Martinsville has been good to Blaney as of late, with the third-generation racer finishing in the top five four straight times between 2019 and 2020 and leading 157 laps in this race last year.

The field of 36 cars undertook qualifying on Friday afternoon, with Chase Elliott knocking down a 19.694-second lap to beat out Aric Almirola by roughly one-tenth of a second. Josh Bilicki returns to Spire Motorsports' No. 77 after Landon Cassill filled that seat last week, while AJ Allmendinger is back in Kaulig Racing's split No. 16.

1. Chase Elliott
2. Aric Almirola
3. Cole Custer
4. Chris Buescher
5. William Byron
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Christopher Bell
8. Kyle Larson
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Todd Gilliland
11. Kyle Busch
12. Ryan Blaney
13. Austin Cindric
14. Joey Logano
15. Alex Bowman
16. Michael McDowell
17. Justin Haley
18. Kurt Busch
19. Chase Briscoe
20. Martin Truex Jr.
21. Bubba Wallace
22. Tyler Reddick
23. Austin Dillon
24. Erik Jones
25. Denny Hamlin
26. Corey LaJoie
27. Ross Chastain
28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
29. Harrison Burton
30. Daniel Suarez
31. Josh Bilicki
32. JJ Yeley
33. BJ McLeod
34. Ty Dillon
35. Cody Ware
36. AJ Allmendinger

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(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

Pre-Race Inspection Failures

The following team failed three times, was prevented from qualifying and must serve a pass-through penalty when the race begins.

  • No. 16 Kaulig Racing (AJ Allmendinger)

Qualifying Notes

  • Chase Elliott's lap time was the only circuit under 19.7 seconds in the entirety of qualifying, with a 19.694-second trial. It's also Elliott's first pole in more than a year, having last led the field to green in 2020's championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
  • Aric Almirola's time clocked in a distant two seconds behind at 19.799 seconds, and he'll make his second top-five start of the year.
  • Third-place qualifier Cole Custer tied his best starting spot of the season (Circuit of The Americas).
  • Chris Buescher hasn't started in the top 10 since Daytona, where he qualified fourth. He'll also start from that spot on Saturday night.
  • Front Row Motorsports' Todd Gilliland put up the 10th-best time for what's by far his best starting spot of his rookie season. He won the fall 2019 Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville.
  • Alex Bowman, who won last fall's dramatic playoff race and drew the ire of Denny Hamlin, will roll off 15th.
  • Defending spring race winner Martin Truex Jr. qualified 20th.
  • Hamlin, less than a week removed from his Richmond triumph, starts 25th.

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400
Track: Martinsville Speedway (Martinsville, Va.)
Date: Saturday, April 9
TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 laps (210 miles)
Stage 1: 80 Laps
Stage 2: 100 Laps
Final Stage: 220 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

Kevin Harvick is still searching for his first win in more than a season, but that didn't stop him from joining the "Frontstretch Podcast" and host Davey Segal. Harvick discussed adjusting to the Next Gen car, races like Saturday's at Martinsville being shortened, the youth movement within NASCAR and more.

— Written by Adam Cheek, who's an Editor for Frontstretch.com. He can be reached on Twitter @adamncheek.

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