How the eight remaining playoff drivers fare at Martinsville

From The Marbles

As the third round of the 2017 Cup Series playoffs begins, we’re reminded that there are just four races left in the season. It both feels like a long season and one that’s flown by.

Over the next four weeks we’re going to preview each race by taking a look at the past performance of each playoff driver at that week’s race. The third round starts at Martinsville, a track where a certain seven-time champion has dominated.

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Ryan Blaney (3 starts at Martinsville)

2017 points: 4,009
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 0
Average finish: 21

Blaney has the least experience of any driver in the field at Martinsville. He finished 25th in the spring after a kerfuffle with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in turn 2.

Martin Truex Jr. (23 starts)

2017 points: 4,069
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 7
Average finish: 20.4

Well, it’s not a 1.5-mile track, so this is a place where Truex isn’t a favorite. But he’s been a lot better at the half-mile track since 2015, the season when Cole Pearn became his crew chief. Truex has three top-10 finishes in his last five starts and hasn’t finished outside the top 20 in the other two.

Chase Elliott (4 starts)

2017 points: 4,006
Wins: 0
Top 10s: 1
Average finish: 18.2

Elliott’s first NASCAR start came in 2015 when he drove the No. 25 car in the Martinsville spring race. He finished 38th. He’s improved his finish in each of the next three races and finished third behind Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch in the spring.

Kevin Harvick (32 starts)

2017 points: 4,017
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 14
Average finish: 16.2

Harvick’s lone Martinsville win came in the spring of 2011. After finishing fourth in the fall race that year he hasn’t finished in the top five since. He was eighth in both Martinsville races in 2015 and has runs of 17th, 20th and 20th in his last three races at the track.

Kyle Busch (24 starts)

2017 points: 4,042
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 13
Average finish: 13.6

Busch led 274 laps in the spring but was passed for the lead late by Keselowski. He’s finished in the top five in four-straight Martinsville races (including a win in the spring race a year ago) and hasn’t finished outside the top 15 since the 2012 spring race.

Brad Keselowski (15 starts)

2017 points: 4,026
Wins: 1
Top 10s: 9
Average finish: 12.9

Since 2012, Keselowski has been boom or bust at Martinsville. The boom is eight top-10 finishes in those 11 starts. The other three races he’s finished outside the top 30, including a ruined race in 2015 when he was involved in a wreck with Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth.

Denny Hamlin (23 starts)

2017 points: 4,014
Wins: 5
Top 10s: 17
Average finish: 10.1

Since winning the spring race in 2015, Hamlin has finished third, 39th, third and 30th at Martinsville. The good news is those two third-place finishes have come in the fall races at the track. Those are a bit more important than the spring race, especially when you’re still involved in the playoffs.

Jimmie Johnson (31 starts)

2017 points: 4,017
Wins: 9
Top 10s: 24
Average finish: 7.5

Johnson is the defending champion of this race and our pick to visit victory lane. Because, why not? A 10th win at Martinsville would be a bizarrely fitting way for Johnson to ensure a championship chance at Homestead in a season where he’s (relatively) struggled and only made the third round of the playoffs thanks to Kyle Larson’s engine failure.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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