All three national NASCAR series are back in action for the trip to Martinsville Weekend. The top drivers will all take on an altered schedule that features races a day earlier than normal.
The NASCAR Cup Series race will serve as the highlight of the weekend as the drivers suit up for a night race. They will climb into their stock cars on Saturday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1), and set out to complete 400 laps around the .526-mile paperclip. The Xfinity Series race will not take place on April 9. Instead, the drivers will compete on Friday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1).
The Camping World Truck Series race will kick off the race weekend with a Thursday night race. The drivers will return to action after a week off, and they will battle over 200 laps for crucial points and a spot in the playoffs. Like the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races, this battle will take place under the lights with a start time just after 8 p.m. ET (FS1).
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NASCAR Made a Big Change for Martinsville
With the Cup Series race taking place at night, NASCAR has made a significant change for the April weekend. The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 will now only be 400 laps instead of 500 as in years past. The race will feature stage breaks on Laps 80 and 180 before the final run to the checkered flag at Lap 400.
The last time the Cup Series drivers completed only 400 laps at Martinsville Speedway was in 1956. 40 cars headed to the grid for the Old Dominion 400, a race that featured seven leaders. Jack Smith led the final 175 laps — and 185 total — before capturing the checkered flag in a Dodge.
While the spring race at Martinsville Speedway will only have 400 laps, the playoff race will remain unchanged. The Xfinity 500 on October 30 will still have 500 laps as the drivers battle for the final spots in the championship race.
The Last Martinsville Weekend Had Wild Moments
Martinsville, the oldest track on the NASCAR circuit, is also the shortest. It is the home of wild races and the classic “short-track” experience, which the elimination weekend in October put on full display.
The Truck Series race at Martinsville was unique considering that none of the drivers had locked themselves into the championship race. The first two races in the Round of Eight featured playoff-ineligible winners, which meant that only the race at Martinsville would determine the championship four.
The race came to an end in overtime as Zane Smith, Todd Gilliland, and Stewart Friesen went three-wide on the first of two laps. Friesen spun Gilliland into the wall as they crossed the start-finish line to take the white flag. Smith had a slight lead when the caution came out, which locked him into the final race. Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, and John Hunter Nemechek all joined him on points.
The Cup Series race featured several big moments as well, including Brad Keselowski attempting to spin Kyle Busch at the start-finish line. However, the biggest moment from the elimination race was the one where Alex Bowman sent Denny Hamlin spinning late, prompting the veteran driver to call him a “hack” during a post-race tirade. The driver of the No. 11 still secured his spot with enough points and joined Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Martin Truex Jr.
The Xfinity Series race, by comparison, featured one driver calling his shot. Noah Gragson started the day by saying that he would go out and win, which would lock him into the championship four. He did exactly that after surviving a final stage that featured several cautions and a red-flag stop due to fluid on the track. He held off Austin Cindric during overtime and followed through with his bold prediction.
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