Today’s Cup race at Martinsville: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup playoffs start their kick into the home stretch with today’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Eight drivers remain in title contention. Martin Truex Jr. comes into the race as the hottest driver. His win at Kansas was his third in six playoff races and his series-leading seventh triumph of 2017.

But Truex has never won at NASCAR’s smallest short track (.526-mile). In fact, his best finish there has only been a pair of fifth-place showings in 23 starts.

Here are all the important info you need for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Frank Bisignano, First Data CEO and Chairman, will give the command to start engines at 3:07 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 3:13 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 500 laps (263 miles) around the .526-mile oval.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 45

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 130. Stage 2 ends at Lap 260.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 6:30 a.m. Driver-crew chief meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Gaither Vocal Band will perform the anthem at 3:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO:  NBCSN will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. on NBCSN with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 2:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com, starting with its pre-race show at 2 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 46 degrees and a 23 percent chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Jimmie Johnson earned his ninth career win at Martinsville during last year’s playoffs, helping to propel him to his record-tying seventh Cup championship. Johnson beat Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin. In April, Keselowski won, holding off Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.