Brad Keselowski on the pole for NASCAR's final short track race of 2020
The XFINITY 500 serves as the penultimate race of the 2020 NASCAR season at Martinsville Speedway. The sport's shortest track with a history of close competition now wraps up the Round of 8 as the number of championship-eligible drivers will be cut down to four by the checkered flag.
Track position is increasingly important even at one of the sport's smallest ovals. Two of the last three races here had a grand total of just three lead changes; the last three winners at Martinsville started third, third and fifth. That trend bodes well for the eight remaining title contenders as qualifying rules dictate all of them will start up front.
Once again, the lineup will be sorted out due to special rules put in place during NASCAR’s COVID-19 pandemic. There will be no practice or qualifying while starting positions are determined through the formula outlined below.
25% of the metric will be the driver's finishing position from the previous race.
25% of the metric will be the owner's finishing position from the previous race.
35% of the metric will be the owner's current position in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.
15% of the metric will be their fastest lap during the previous race.
All drivers remaining in championship contention (8) automatically start ahead of all others.
Look for whomever darts out front early to dominate at the front of the field. Brad Keselowski led an astounding 446 laps here back in early 2019; Martin Truex Jr. followed that up in the fall race by pacing the field for 464. Even with the slowest speeds on the circuit, the dreaded aero push makes a difference even with NASCAR's new handling package for short tracks.
Thirty-nine teams are made the trip to Martinsville for 40 spots on the grid, meaning everyone who entered will start the race. Just three "open" teams are attempting the event, paired with the 36 chartered cars guaranteed a starting spot each race.
These entries are Gaunt Brothers Racing (No. 96), whose Toyota is run by Daniel Suarez; MBM Motorsports (No. 66), entering a Toyota run by Timmy Hill; and Tommy Baldwin Racing (No. 7), running their Chevrolet driven by Josh Bilicki.
1. Brad Keselowski (P)
2. Martin Truex Jr. (P)
3. Alex Bowman (P)
4. Denny Hamlin (P)
5. Kurt Busch (P)
6. Kevin Harvick (P)
7. Joey Logano (P)
8. Chase Elliott (P)
9. Kyle Busch
10. Ryan Blaney
11. Christopher Bell (R)
12. Matt DiBenedetto
13. William Byron
14. Austin Dillon
15. Cole Custer (R)
16. Clint Bowyer
17. Tyler Reddick (R)
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19. Erik Jones
20. Aric Almirola
21. Ryan Newman
22. Ryan Preece
23. John Hunter Nemechek (R)
24. Michael McDowell
25. Ty Dillon
26. Corey LaJoie
27. Jimmie Johnson
28. Chris Buescher
29. Daniel Suarez
30. Brennan Poole (R)
31. Matt Kenseth
32. Bubba Wallace
33. Josh Bilicki (i)
34. Timmy Hill (i)
35. Quin Houff (R)
36. Garrett Smithley (i)
37. James Davison
38. JJ Yeley (i)
39. Joey Gase (i)
(P) – Playoff Driver
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
- Brad Keselowski (1st) starts up front for the second time in the NASCAR playoffs. He's earned eight top-five finishes at Martinsville in the last nine races held there.
- Martin Truex Jr. (2nd) is the best-qualifying Toyota driver. He's also won the last two Cup races held at Martinsville.
- Alex Bowman (3rd) is the highest-starting Chevrolet driver. He has never won at Martinsville and is seeking his first-ever Championship 4 appearance.
- Denny Hamlin (4th) has won five times at Martinsville, the most for him at any short track on the Cup circuit. He's seeking a second straight Championship 4 appearance.
- Kurt Busch (5th) must win in order to make the Championship 4. The 2004 Cup champion hasn't made the final round under the current format.
- Kevin Harvick (6th) is seeking his sixth Championship 4 appearance in the seven seasons NASCAR has used this format.
- Christopher Bell (11th) has the best starting spot among rookie drivers.
- Jimmie Johnson (27th) will start his final Martinsville race behind the wheel of the No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson has won nine times at Martinsville, the most for him at any racetrack outside of Dover International Speedway (11).
- Garrett Smithley (36th) returns to the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, replacing Reed Sorenson. Sponsorship will come from BetterYourHealth.com.
- James Davison (37th) returns to the No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Ford, replacing Smithley.
NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN
Race: XFINITY 500
Track: Martinsville Speedway (Ridgeway, Va.)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 1
TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 500 laps (263 miles)
Stage 1: 130 Laps
Stage 2: 130 Laps
Final Stage: 240 Laps