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Race report

NASCAR Cup Martinsville: Blaney advances into title race with win

Ryan Blaney passed Aric Almirola to secure a timely NASCAR Cup playoff victory at Martinsville Speedway that secures him a berth in next weekend's Championship 4 showdown in Phoenix.

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang

Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

The Playoff round of eight concluded at Martinsville with an unusual 168-lap green flag run following a spin by Michael McDowell.

Playing it safe, Team Penske Ford driver Blaney and several other lead-lap cars waited to make their final pit stop well within their fuel window while Almirola (Stewart-Haas Ford) and Chase Elliott were among those who pitted earlier hoping for one or more late-race cautions.

But they were to be disappointed as Blaney – on fresher tyres – ran down Almirola with 22 of 500 laps to go and cleared him for the lead exiting Turn 4.

Having earlier beaten Denny Hamlin to the Stage 2 win, Blaney held off Almirola by 0.889 seconds at the finish to secure the critical victory which automatically advances him to the final four of the playoffs.

Blaney will face off for his first Cup title, and the second in a row for Roger Penske's team after Joey Logano took the honour in 2022, against Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Toyota) and Hendrick Chevrolet drivers Kyle Larson and William Byron.

The third victory of 2023 for Blaney was his second of the Playoffs, after he won the Talladega Round of 12 race in a photo finish

“I felt like we put together really strong playoffs, especially the Round of 8,” he said. “We had a good run in the whole Round of 8. Just overall really proud of the whole effort.

“RP couldn’t be here, unfortunately, but I know he was watching. This is awesome. Can’t wait to get to Phoenix next week.”

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang

Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Race winner Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang

Almirola, who on Saturday confirmed he will not return for another full-time season in Cup next year with SHR, finished second in his best result of the year.

After winning the opening stage, JGR's Hamlin finished third and missed out on the Championship 4 for the second consecutive season. Chase Briscoe was fourth and Logano rounded out the top five.

Larson and Bell, who had already guaranteed their places in the Championship 4 with victories at Las Vegas and Homestead respectively, secured sixth and seventh spots as the top 10 was completed by Round of 8 outsider Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric and Todd Gilliland.

Byron finished 13th but progresses to the Championship 4 on points, while Tyler Reddick and Martin Truex Jr were also eliminated from title contention.

NASCAR Cup Martinsville Race Results:

 
 
       
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Manufacturer Laps Time Interval Pits Points Retirement
1 United States R. Blaney Team Penske 12 Ford 500

3:29'43.070

  7 59  
2 United States A. Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 10 Ford 500

+0.899

3:29'43.969

0.899 7 35  
3 United States D. Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 11 Toyota 500

+4.140

3:29'47.210

3.241 6 53  
4 United States C. Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing 14 Ford 500

+9.875

3:29'52.945

5.735 7 48  
5 United States J. Logano Team Penske 22 Ford 500

+10.659

3:29'53.729

0.784 6 41  
6 United States K. Larson Hendrick Motorsports 5 Chevrolet 500

+11.020

3:29'54.090

0.361 8 31  
7 United States C. Bell Joe Gibbs Racing 20 Toyota 500

+11.876

3:29'54.946

0.856 7 36  
8 United States C. Buescher RFK Racing 17 Ford 500

+18.506

3:30'01.576

6.630 8 29  
9 United States A. Cindric Team Penske 2 Ford 500

+19.415

3:30'02.485

0.909 6 28  
10 United States T. Gilliland Front Row Motorsports 38 Ford 500

+20.810

3:30'03.880

1.395 7 30  
11 United States B. Wallace 23XI Racing 23 Toyota 500

+21.428

3:30'04.498

0.618 7 26  
12 United States M. Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 19 Toyota 500

+21.690

3:30'04.760

0.262 7 33  
13 United States W. Byron Hendrick Motorsports 24 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'44.385

1 Lap 8 24  
14 United States R. Chastain TrackHouse Racing 1 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'46.166

1.781 8 23  
15 United States H. Burton Wood Brothers Racing 21 Ford 499

+1 Lap

3:29'46.517

0.351 9 22  
16 United States K. Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 4 Ford 499

+1 Lap

3:29'47.085

0.568 7 24  
17 United States C. Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 9 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'53.206

6.121 8 20  
18
T. Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing
54 Toyota 499

+1 Lap

3:29'53.383

0.177 9 28  
19 United States R. Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing 47 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'55.686

2.303 9 18  
20 United States R. Preece Stewart-Haas Racing 41 Ford 499

+1 Lap

3:29'55.876

0.190 7 24  
21 United States E. Jones Legacy Motor Club 43 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'56.324

0.448 8 16  
22 United States C. Lajoie Spire Motorsports 7 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'56.643

0.319 8 15  
23 United States A. Dillon Richard Childress Racing 3 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'57.783

1.140 11 14  
24 United States T. Dillon Spire Motorsports 77 Chevrolet 499

+1 Lap

3:29'59.093

1.310 9 13  
25 United States M. McDowell Front Row Motorsports 34 Ford 499

+1 Lap

3:30'05.660

6.567 9 12  
26 United States T. Reddick 23XI Racing 45 Toyota 498

+2 Laps

3:29'45.473

1 Lap 8 11  
27 United States K. Busch Richard Childress Racing 8 Chevrolet 498

+2 Laps

3:29'48.992

3.519 7 10  
28 United States A. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing 16 Chevrolet 498

+2 Laps

3:30'01.042

12.050 8 9  
29 United States R. Newman Rick Ware Racing 51 Ford 497

+3 Laps

3:29'43.409

1 Lap 7    
30 United States J. Haley Kaulig Racing 31 Chevrolet 497

+3 Laps

3:29'45.211

1.802 8 7  
31
C. Hocevar Legacy Motor Club
42 Chevrolet 496

+4 Laps

3:29'56.496

1 Lap 7    
32 United States A. Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 48 Chevrolet 496

+4 Laps

3:29'58.585

2.089 8 5  
33 United States B. Keselowski RFK Racing 6 Ford 306

+194 Laps

3:28'23.339

190 Laps 12 16  
34 Mexico D. Suarez TrackHouse Racing 99 Chevrolet 274

+226 Laps

2:06'12.658

32 Laps 8 3 DVP
35 United States J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing 15 Ford 271

+229 Laps

1:54'11.553

3 Laps 4   Accident
36 United States B. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports 78 Chevrolet 147

+353 Laps

1:01'03.536

124 Laps 4   Overheating

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