NASCAR: One driver faces must-win situation at Martinsville

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

One driver below the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 cut line knows he needs to win at Martinsville Speedway in order to advance.

Only this Sunday afternoon’s round of 8 race at Martinsville Speedway remains on the NASCAR Cup Series playoff schedule before the Championship 4 field is solidified.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell have both already secured their spots in the winner-take-all round, with Larson doing so with a win in the round of 8 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Bell doing so in the following race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

That leaves two spots open heading into this Sunday afternoon’s 500-lap Xfinity 500 around the four-turn, 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) Ridgeway, Virginia oval. One of those spots is guaranteed to be awarded to a driver on points, while the other could either be awarded on points or via a win.

Five drivers still have a good possibility of making it to the Championship 4 on points. Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney are both above the cut line, while 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin are all within striking distance.

RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher, however, is not.

Buescher has had a career year in 2023, more than doubling his career NASCAR Cup Series win total over a five-week span to conclude the regular season.

He won three oval races in a row at one point and carried that momentum through the round of 16 and the round of 12. But he has hit somewhat of a rough patch in the round of 8, putting him 43 points behind Blaney for the fourth and final Championship 4 spot with just one more race in the semifinal round.

While Buescher can theoretically make up a 43-point gap without winning, you must consider the fact that it’s not just one driver he has to pass to get himself into the top four. He also needs to make up a 26-point gap on Truex, a 26-point gap on Hamlin, and a 36-point gap on Reddick.

He cannot mathematically make up a 63-point gap on Byron, so all of this needs to happen in order for him to advance without a win. The chances of all of that happening in a single race weekend are extremely low, if even existent.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is issuing a $200 bonus to fans who bet $5 on any driver, lists Buescher as a +6000 longshot to win this year’s title.

Odds and availability are subject to change, so lock in your $200 today!

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NBC is set to broadcast the Xfinity 500 live from Martinsville Speedway beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, October 29. If you have yet to begin a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!