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NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Kyle Larson earns the pole but the big winners are Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe, and Ryan Blaney behind him at Martinsville.
NASCAR Starting Lineup for Sunday's Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway

The penultimate race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season takes place Sunday, Oct. 30 at Martinsville Speedway with the Xfinity 500. This race will determine which of the eight remaining playoff contenders will advance to the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway next weekend.

To earn a shot at the title, the eight playoff contenders must succeed at the shortest track on the circuit. Martinsville is just 0.526 miles in length, a paperclip-shaped oval with tight corners and where contact is the norm, not the exception. Plenty of races here have been won with a last-minute bump-and-run; the final 100 laps of the fall event are typically some of the most exciting you'll see all season.

The big question this time around is how much the Next Gen chassis might mess up that rhythm. A track that's already difficult to pass on is near impossible with the sport's new car, adding extra importance to qualifying. Saturday's session created three big winners among that group: Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe, and Ryan Blaney. They'll start 2-3-4 in a race where a win by any of them locks down their spot in next weekend's Championship 4.

On the flip side? There's Christopher Bell (20th) and William Byron (25th), faced with the near-impossible task of moving up from mid-pack before getting lapped by the leaders. Just four caution flags in the April race limited the ability of back markers to keep pace.

Only the 36 chartered teams showed up to attempt Sunday's race, leaving the field four short of a full 40-car grid. That's been the norm for most of the playoffs as any part-time teams turn their attention to 2023.

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

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

Qualifying Notes

  • Kyle Larson (first) earned his fourth pole of the season, a new career high. Larson, whose No. 5 team is already locked into the owner's Championship 4, has never won at Martinsville in 15 career starts. He was also the fastest-qualifying Chevrolet (which clinched the 2022 Manufacturer's Championship last weekend).
  • Chase Elliott (second) qualified the best of the eight remaining playoff drivers.
  • Chase Briscoe (third) was the fastest-qualifying Ford driver. He'll need to win Martinsville in order to advance into the Championship 4.
  • Cole Custer (fifth) earned his fourth top-5 qualifying effort of the year. It's his best start since winning the pole at the Bristol Dirt Race in April.
  • Harrison Burton (10th) was the highest-qualifying rookie.
  • Denny Hamlin (11th) qualified the best out of six Toyota drivers in the field. Hamlin starts the race five points behind William Byron for the final spot in the Championship 4.
  • Joey Logano (12th) is the only driver locked into the Championship 4 by virtue of his win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago.
  • Corey LaJoie (14th) has his best starting spot on an oval in his Cup career.
  • Noah Gragson (17th) continues to fill in for last year's Martinsville race winner, Alex Bowman, as he recovers from a concussion. Bowman will return to the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the season finale in Phoenix.
  • Bubba Wallace (24th) returns to his 23XI Racing Toyota after a one-race suspension for wrecking Kyle Larson intentionally at Las Vegas. John Hunter Nemechek filled in at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend.
  • William Byron (25th) qualified the worst of all eight playoff drivers. Byron won the first Next Gen race held at Martinsville back in April.
  • Martin Truex Jr. (27th) has won three of the last six Martinsville events.

Related: Best Martinsville Speedway Drivers for DraftKings

NASCAR Race Breakdown

Race: Xfinity 500
Track: Martinsville Speedway (Martinsville, Va.)
Date: Sunday, Oct. 30
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
Distance: 500 laps (263 miles)
Stage 1: 130 Laps
Stage 2: 130 Laps
Stage 3: 240 Laps

Pre-Race Preview

Bryan Nolen is joined this week on The Frontstretch Podcast by fellow NASCAR journalist Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic. The duo chats about why so many are worried about the quality of racing at Martinsville Speedway and why the fall race should be better than the spring. Then, Michael Massie of Frontstretch joins in to talk NASCAR's nightmare Championship 4 scenario as both he and Nolen give their race picks for the weekend.