The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Round of 8 kickoffs this weekend at the historic Martinsville Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, NBCSN). The .5-mile Virginia short track is the only track that was on NASCAR’s original schedule back in 1949.
Three of the last four Martinsville Playoff race winners were Playoff contenders and went on to compete for a Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Eight drivers in the field Sunday at Martinsville are past winners at the speedway. The five most recent date back to 2015.
2018 – CLINT BOWYER
The series last visited the .526-mile short track in March, and it was Bowyer who was able to claim victory in the weather-postponed STP 500.
Bowyer passed Ryan Blaney on lap 285 and set his sails to the wind. He went on To lead all but one of the remaining 215 laps in the race.
Bowyer held off a hard charging Kyle Busch to claim his first career win at Martinsville. The victory ended a 190 race-winless streak for the Kansas native.
2017 & 2016 – KYLE BUSCH
Kyle Busch has a pair of victories at Martinsville after winning in 2016 and 2017.
Busch dominated the 2016 Spring event in which he led 352 of the 500 laps. Busch held off a hard charing AJ Allmendinger during a ten-lap shootout to end the race after the caution flag waved with just over 10 laps to go in the race.
In 2017, Busch secured a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch passed teammate Denny Hamlin on the final lap and crossed the finish line .146-seconds ahead of Martin Truex Jr. to secure his second career Martinsville victory.
2017 – BRAD KESELOWSKI
Although Brad Keselowski is eliminated from the 2018 Playoffs, the No. 2 team is heading to a track they feel like they can contend for the win. “I feel like we can go win Martinsville next week so I am excited about that,” Keselowski said to The Racing Experts after being eliminated at Kansas Speedway.
In the Spring 2017 event, Keselowski led 116 of the 500 laps at Martinsville. Keselowski traded the lead with rival Kyle Busch several times over the course of the last 100 laps. Keselowski made the final pass with 47 laps to go.
The victory in 2017 was Team Penske’s 1000th race and Keselowski’s second of three wins in 2017.
2016 – JIMMIE JOHNSON
In the Fall of 2016, Jimmie Johnson went to Victory Lane at Martinsville Speedway. The win locked Johnson into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Johnson ultimately prevailed to tie legends Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with seven championships.
Johnson passed Denny Hamlin with 92 laps remaining and went on to win a record ninth race at the Virginia half-mile short track.
2015 – DENNY HAMLIN
Denny Hamlin held off a late charge by Brad Keselowski to win his fifth grandfather clock, a traditional trophy given to victors of the speedway.
Hamlin restarted fifth on Lap 467 of 500 and quickly moved into the lead with new tires on Lap 474.
Keselowski and Hamlin battled over the final 10 laps. Keselowski bumped Hamlin in the final corner but Hamlin managed to hold on to cross the finish line first.
Matt Courson is the Managing Editor for The Racing Experts. Courson has covered NASCAR events at 19 of the 23 active racetracks. When not at the track, the 20-year-old Journalism major enjoys spending time with family and playing Ingress.