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Who’s Hot, Who’s Not heading into Martinsville?

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Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway marks the start of the Round of 8 semifinal playoff round.

Here’s this week’s edition of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not heading into Martinsville:

WHO’S HOT

 No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. (Hot)

  • Won at Charlotte, 23rd at Talladega, Won at Kansas.
  • Seven wins in 2017, the most by a driver since Matt Kenseth had seven in 2013.
  • Finished in the top-five 15 times and the top-10 22 times this season, both are the most.
  • Won 19 stages this season, the most.
  • 69 Playoff Points this season, the most.
  • Has led a series-high 2,068 laps, led the most laps in eight races.
  • Three of his seven top-10 finishes at Martinsville came in the last five races.
  • Finished 16th at Martinsville in April, spun from seventh on lap 431.
  • Best short track finish of 2017 came at Bristol in April finished 8th.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Winless at Texas in 24 starts, runner-up in Spring 2013. … Finished top-10 in the last five races at Texas, led in the last four. … Six wins on 1.5-mile tracks in 2017, most ever in a season, won the last four.

No. 11 Denny Hamlin (Hot)

  • Finished 4th at Charlotte, 6th at Talladega, 5th at Kansas.
  • Finished top six in seven of the last nine races.
  • Five wins at Martinsville rank ninth all-time and second among active drivers (Jimmie Johnson has nine).
  • Five wins at Martinsville are his most among all tracks.
  • Finished 30th or worse in two of the last three races at Martinsville including 30th in April.
  • 30th-place finish at Martinsville in April is his only finish worst than 10th this season on a short track.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Won both races at Texas in 2010, his only wins there in 23 starts, but has only three top-10 finishes there in the 12 races since with no top-fives. … Finished 25th at Texas in April.

No. 18 Kyle Busch (Hot)

  • Finished 29th at Charlotte, hit the wall while running 2nd, 27th at Talladega (accident), 10th at Kansas.
  • Four wins this season, all in the last 12 races.
  • Led laps in the last 15 races this season, a personal best and the best streak ever among the active drivers.
  • Finished top five in the last four races at Martinsville (the longest active streak) including a win in April 2016 (his only at the track).
  • Led 42 percent of the laps raced at Martinsville in the last three races (629 of 1500).
  • 469 laps led on short tracks in 2017 lead all drivers.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Two-time Texas winner, both came in his last eight starts there. … Finished top-15 in his last 10 Texas starts (seven top-fives). … Finished 15th at Texas in April 2

 No. 2 Brad Keselowski (Good)

  • Finished 15th at Charlotte, won at Talladega after having radio issues, Finished 13th at Kansas after two speeding penalties.
  • Advanced to the round of 8 with his win at Talladega.
  • Won at Martinsville in April (led 116 laps), his only win there in 15 races.
  • Finished top five in the last three races at Martinsville, top 10 in eight of the last 11.
  • Only two top-10 finishes on short tracks in 2017.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Winless at Texas in 18 starts, best finish of second in this race in 2015 after leading 312 of 334 laps. … Finished top 10 in seven of the last 10 races at Texas (sixth there in April).

No. 4 Kevin Harvick (Decent)

  • Finished 3rd at Charlotte after winning the first two stages, 20th at Talladega and eighth at Kansas.
  • Only  two top-10 finishes in the last five races.
  • Only four top-10 finishes in the last 11 races at Martinsville, finished 20th in each of the last two.
  • Won at Martinsville in Spring 2011 but as only one top-five finish there since.
  • Finished top-10 in three of the five races on short tracks this season.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Winless at Texas in 29 starts, two time runner-up. … Finished in the top-10 in the last six races at Texas (fourth in April).

No. 21 Ryan Blaney (Putting it together)

  • Finished 8th at Charlotte, 18th at Talladega, accident after leading 27 laps, third at Kansas.
  • Finished top 10 in three of the last five races of 2017.
  • Best finish at Martinsville is 19th (two times)
  • Finished 25th at Martinsville in April.
  • Finished 10th at Bristol in August 2017, only top 10 ever on a short track.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Five Texas starts with a best finish of 12th in each of the last two races there. … Led 148 laps at Texas in April but finished 12th after sliding through his box from eighth on his last stop.

No. 24 Chase Elliott (His time is coming)

  • Finished 2nd at Charlotte, sixth career runner-up finish, 16th at Talladega, fourth at Kansas.
  • Four top-five finishes in the playoffs rank second to Martin Truex Jr. (five).
  • Worst finish in the last eight races is 16th at Talladega.
  • Finished third at Martinsville in April, only top-10 finish there in four starts.
  • Made his Cup debut at Martinsville in March 2015 (finished 38th).
  • Three of his four Cup top-10 finishes on short tracks came in 2017.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Finished top-10 in all three of his Texas starts with a best of fourth in October 2016. … Got his first Xfinity win at Texas in April 2014.

No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Warming up)

  • Finished seventh in each of the last two races.
  • Finished top 12 in the last four races, best streak this season, including three top 10s.
  • Won at Martinsville in Fall 2014.
  • Finished top 10 in four of his last seven Martinsville starts.

No. 42 Kyle Larson (Hot in 2017 but unlucky at Kansas)

  • Finished 10th at Charlotte, 13th at Talladega, involved in accident, 39th at Kansas, engine.
  • Eight runner-up finishes this season.
  • Four wins in 2017, had one entering this season.
  • Finished third at Martinsville in April 2016, only finish better than 14th in seven starts there.
  • Finished 17th at Martinsville in April, dropped from top-10 late due to power issues.
  • Finished top-10 in three of the five short-track races this season with a win at Richmond in September.

WHO’S NOT HOT

 No. 48 Jimmie Johnson (Just doesn’t seem to have it lately)

  • Finished 7th at Charlotte, 24th at Talladega, accident, 11th at Kansas after two accidents.
  • Top 10 finishes in four of the last seven races.
  • Four top five finishes this season, three were wins.
  • Nine-time winner at Martinsville including this race last year, nine wins are tied for third most all-time and the most by an active driver.
  • Finished 15th at Martinsville in April.
  • Only two top-10 finishes in his last six races at Martinsville.
  • Win at Bristol in April is his only top-five finish on a short track this season.
  • Look ahead to Texas: Seven time winner at Texas, most of all drivers. … Won six of the last 10 Texas races including the race there in April.

No. 1 Jamie McMurray (Not)

  • Finished 5th at Charlotte, 37th accident at Talladega, 34th accident at Kansas.
  • 16 top-10 finishes this season, six more than this point last year.
  • Five DNFs because of accidents in 2017.
  • Finished top 10 in three of the last five races at Martinsville.
  • Two-time runner-up at Martinsville.
  • Finished 38th at Martinsville in April, damage to the left rear fender while battling for 6th with Johnson on lap 100 led to an accident on lap 107.
  • Finished sixth at Richmond in April, only short track top-10 finish this season.

No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Not)

  • Finished 13th at Charlotte, 26th accident at Talladega, 29th accident at Kansas.
  • Best finish of 10th at Martinsville in April, his only top-10 finish there in nine starts.
  • Finished top 10 in three of the five races on short tracks this season.

No. 20 Matt Kenseth (Unlucky)

  • Finished 11th at Charlotte, 14th at Talladega, 37th at Kansas.
  • No top-10 finishes in the last four races, tied for his longest streak of the season.
  • Martinsville is one of only five active tracks he has not won on, best finish of second twice in 35 starts.
  • Finished ninth at Martinsville in April.
  • Six top-10 finishes in the last eight races at Martinsville.
  • Finished top 10 in three of the five races on short tracks this season with a best of fourth at both Bristol races.

No. 3 Austin Dillon (Not hot)

  • Finished 14th Kansas, best finish in the last seven races.
  • Only three top-15 finishes in the last 13 races.
  • Only four top-10 finishes this season, had 13 at this point last year.
  • Won on fuel mileage at Charlotte earlier this year.
  • Finished top-five in two of the last three races at Martinsville including a fifth in April 4.

No. 5 Kasey Kahne (Not hot)

  • Finished 15th at Kansas ending his streak of top-10 finishes at two.
  • Only three top 10 finishes in the last 22 races.
  • Six DNFs due to accidents this season.
  • Won at Indianapolis ending a 102-race winless streak, took a super lucky timed caution and turned it into a win.
  • Only one top-10 finish in the last eight races at Martinsville.

No. 31 Ryan Newman (Not good lately)

  • Finished second at Talladega, only top-10 finish in the last six races.
  • DNF because of accident in two of the last three races (40th at Charlotte, 33rd at Kansas).
  • Finished top-10 in four of the last six races at Martinsville including an eighth in April.

No. 41 Kurt Busch (Not Hot)

  • Finished second at Kansas but it is his only finish better than 19th in the last six races.
  • Two-time Martinsville winner but his win in Spring 2014 is his only top-10 finish in the last 23 races there.

No. 14 Clint Bowyer (Disappointing 2017) 

  • Finished 19th at Kansas, best finish in the last three races.
  • Finished runner-up three times in 2017.
  • Only two top-10 finishes in the last 10 races of 2017.
  • Finished seventh at Martinsville in April, only top-10 finish in the last five races.

No. 22 Joey Logano (Disappointing season)

  • Finished 4th at Talladega, only his fourth top-five finish since his Richmond win and his only top-10 finish in the last four races.
  • 12 finishes outside the top 20 in the last 23 races.
  • Won at Richmond after starting in the rear due to a transmission change, but win was ruled encumbered due to illegal suspension.
  • First time he missed the playoffs with Team Penske.
  • Finished top-10 in five of the last seven races at Martinsville, fourth there in April.

No. 77 Erik Jones (Lost his momentum)

  • DNF due accident in the last two races of 2017.
  • Top-10 finishes in seven of the last 12 races this season but only one in the last six.
  • Started 15th, finished 12th at Martinsville in April in his only Cup start there.
  • Finished top-10 in each of the last two short track races, including a career-best 2nd at Bristol.

 

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Results, point standings after Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell led a race-high 120 laps to win the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. It’s his second career Xfinity win.

Bell beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Noah Gragson, Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Click here for the race results.

Points

Elliott Sadler continues to lead the point standings through eight races. He has a 29-point lead over Bell.

Completing the top five is Tyler Reddick (-31 points), Daniel Hemric (-38) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell fended off teammate Noah Gragson to break through and win his first Xfinity race of the year Friday night at Richmond Raceway.

Bell led the final 79 laps around the .75-mile track to score his second career win. He had finished in the top five in four of the first seven races this season.

“That was pretty special there, buddy,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “Had to work for it. My teammate was really good and I knew throughout both practices that both of our cars were going to be really strong. Joe Gibbs Racing has been producing really, really fast Camrys for last couple of weeks and it’s really shown.”

Gragson placed second in his first career Xfinity start. He bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty early in the race.

He hounded Bell for much of the last 15 laps, but could never pull even with him.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Gragson told FS1 of his first series start at the short track. “I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires. I kept it in my memory bank until the end and I told me team, ‘I got something, when it’s time to go tell me when.’ About 18 to go, I told them, ‘Can’t wait any longer, I don’t have any more patience.”

Gragson, who drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, led 10 laps.

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

With his third-place finish, Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Bell, Sadler, Tifft and Cindric will be eligible for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Talladega.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Elliott Sadler, first stage win of season

MORE: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric earned his first career top five after starting from the rear for an unapproved adjustment … Matt Tifft earned his fourth career top five … Ryan Truex placed seventh to give Kaulig Racing its fourth top 10 of the year. It earned five last year … Jeremy Clements placed eighth, earning his first top 10 since he won at Road America in August.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After winning Stage 1, Daniel Hemric lost his right front tire with three laps to go in Stage 2, but made it to the end. He finished 29th, four laps down … Justin Allgaier spun after ramming into the back of Spencer Gallagher with 86 laps to go. Chase Briscoe was also received damage in the incident. Allgaier finished 14th. Briscoe placed 26th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “My wife’s already spent it.” – Elliott Sadler to FS1 after winning the Dash 4 Cash bonus.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway at 3 p.m. ET on April 28 on Fox.

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, winning his third pole of the season.

Truex claimed the pole with a speed of 123.859 mph around the .75-mile track. The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Truex’s 450th Cup start. Truex had DNFs in the last two races.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “But that’s part of racing. This team, I’ve got so much faith and confidence in them and everything we’re doing. You can’t let those kinds of things get you down. It was nothing we did, just circumstances. Just proud of the effort today.”

The pole matches Truex’s total from last year.

Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph). The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney will start 12th, followed by Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel Hemric will start 22nd in his first Cup start.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both failed to advance out of the first round. Keselowski will start 28th and Busch will start 32nd.

“We didn’t make a mock run in practice and then we thought the spread would be about three tenths (of a second),” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It wasn’t, it was faster than that. We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session. A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes awhile for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Click here for qualifying results.