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NASCAR playoff race today at Martinsville: Live updates

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Denny Hamlin (11) and William Byron (24) drive during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Randy Holt)

AP

The NASCAR Cup Series races today at Martinsville Speedway. The Xfinity 500 race is at 2 p.m. on NBC.

The race is 263 miles (500 laps) with stages ending on laps 130, 260 and 500.

Follow along here for lap-by-lap updates. Refresh this page for the latest updates and follow NASCAR reporter Alex Andrejev on Twitter at @AndrejevAlex.

Stage 1

5:58 p.m., Lap 113: Chase Elliott has led all laps since re-taking the lead on Lap 85. There are 15 cars not on the lead lap. Ryan Preece goes to the garage.

2:53 p.m., Lap 100: Ryan Blaney has left rear damage after contact with Austin Dillon. He drops to 11th and has some apparent contact with Christopher Bell. He says his car is “so jacked up” that he doesn’t even know what to do different. Hamlin is another playoff driver who’s had early trouble, and likely won’t get stage points.

2:49 p.m., Lap 85: Chase Elliott retakes the lead and Kyle Larson again doesn’t put up much of a fight giving him the spot. Larson mentioned today that he didn’t want to make enemies today. He’s the only driver through to the Championship 4 so far.

2:40 p.m., Lap 73: The caution is out for Ryan Newman spinning. On the last restart, Kyle Larson took the inside lane with Chase Elliott was on the outside with Brad Keselowski lined up behind him. For the next restart, Elliott takes the inside line behind Larson.

2:32 p.m., Lap 60: Chase Elliott leads at the competition caution after moving by Kyle Larson a few laps before the flag. Larson relinquishes the position. Under caution, the leaders pit and and Larson wins the race off pit road. Disaster for Denny Hamlin. He gets a speeding penalty on pit road in Section 11.

2:29 p.m., Lap 45: Race leader Kyle Larson is gaining on Denny Hamlin and could lap him before the competition caution on Lap 60. He’s already lapped 12 cars, but Larson is hitting traffic which will slightly slow his pace. He’s led all opening laps of the race.

2:25 p.m., Lap 33: Ryan Blaney mentions multiple issues with the balance of his car and says that he’s loose on entry. William Byron appears to get into Blaney from the back and Blaney wiggles and Byron passes him for the position.

2:20 p.m., Lap 20: Kyle Larson has led all laps so far as Denny Hamlin tries to cut through the field from the back. He’s up to 25 but sitting behind lots of traffic. Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott continue to follow. Hamlin is the only driver out of the top 10. Hamlin is told to be patient and that the competition caution is coming on Lap 60.

2:14 p.m., Lap 5: There’s already early contact between Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. as the field goes green. Truex and Elliott get together slightly with Elliott taking some damage on the nose, but Elliott radios that he thinks that he “hit him pretty square” and that he doesn’t think the right front fender damage is that bad. Kyle Larson is the early race leader followed by Truex, who’s followed closely by Elliott.

Pre-race

2:05 p.m.: Cars are lined up, drivers are in their seats and engines are fired. Cars start rolling off pit road. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are starting in the front row, with Larson on the pole and the only driver so far through to the Championship 4 round.

Denny Hamlin dropping to the rear for race start

NASCAR has completed pre-race inspection for today’s Cup Series race. Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota twice failed and Hamlin will drop to the rear of the field prior to the green flag. He was slated to start third, and sits plus-32 points above the Championship 4 driver cutoff behind Kyle Larson, who is locked in on wins, and Chase Elliott, who is plus-34 points. Kyle Busch is one point above the cutline, followed by Ryan Blaney, who is one point below, Martin Truex Jr. (minus-3), Brad Keselowski (minus-6) and Joey Logano (minus-26).

Hamlin is the only playoff driver dropping to the rear for inspection failures. Click here for pre-race betting odds and predictions.

“It’s not ideal,” Hamlin said of dropping to the back. “Just kinda keep our nose clean throughout the day, we should be fine.”

Hamlin, who was featured with his 23XI Racing team in a Post Malone music video earlier this year, posted on Twitter a picture of him dressed as the rap star for Halloween with the promise that if the post received 5,000 retweets, he would keep the face tattoos on for the race. He didn’t quite hit the mark, with the post hovering around 3,000 retweets this morning. Hamlin said today that he was relieved for that, but he decided to keep one tattoo of a bear on his hand after his No. 11 team failed pre-race tech as inspiration.

HOW TO WATCH NASCAR AT MARTINSVILLE CUP RACE

  • Race: Xfinity 500
  • Distance: 263 miles (500 laps) with stages ending on laps 130, 260 and 500
  • Where: Martinsville Speedway
  • When: Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. EST
  • TV: NBC
  • Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
  • Purse: $7,778,099

NASCAR AT MARTINSVILLE STARTING LINEUP

Order Driver Car No.
1 Kyle Larson 5
2 Chase Elliott 9
3 Denny Hamlin 11
4 Martin Truex Jr. 19
5 Joey Logano 22
6 Brad Keselowski 2
7 Kyle Busch 18
8 Ryan Blaney 12
9 Kevin Harvick 4
10 Kurt Busch 1
11 William Byron 24
12 Christopher Bell 20
13 Alex Bowman 48
14 Austin Dillon 3
15 Chris Buescher 17
16 Ross Chastain 42
17 Bubba Wallace 23
18 Tyler Reddick 8
19 Michael McDowell 34
20 Daniel Suárez 99
21 Matt DiBenedetto 21
22 Chase Briscoe 14
23 Aric Almirola 10
24 Cole Custer 41
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47
26 Ryan Preece 37
27 Ryan Newman 6
28 Erik Jones 43
29 Corey LaJoie 7
30 BJ McLeod 78
31 Cody Ware 51
32 Anthony Alfredo 38
33 Josh Bilicki 52
34 Joey Gase 53
35 Justin Haley 77
36 Quin Houff 0
37 Garrett Smithley 15
38 Timmy Hill 66

This story was originally published October 31, 2021 1:42 PM.

NASCAR and Charlotte FC beat reporter Alex Andrejev joined The Observer in January 2020 following an internship at The Washington Post. She played Division I volleyball at Columbia University before earning her master’s degree at the University of Southern California.
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