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October 31, 2021

NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 set after Martinsville

Three of the four Championship 4 spots were up for grabs entering Sunday’s Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway, but now the field is set for next Sunday’s season finale.

Take a look at which four drivers in the Round of 8 advanced to the championship race Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) and which four drivers were eliminated from title contention.

RELATED: Race results | At-track photos


Alex Bowman bumped Denny Hamlin out of the way with six laps to go and held off Kyle Busch in NASCAR Overtime to win Sunday at Martinsville and force the final three Championship 4 spots to be clinched by points. Bowman, a non-playoff driver in the Round of 8, got the sixth Cup Series win of his career, with four of those victories coming this season. Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will be racing for a championship next week at Phoenix Raceway.


Kyle Larson (two wins), Chase Elliott (points), Martin Truex Jr. (points) and Denny Hamlin (points) are all headed to Phoenix next week with a chance to battle for the championship. Larson was the only driver locked in before the Martinsville race after his win at Texas Motor Speedway to open the Round of 8. His win last week at Kansas Speedway prevented anyone else from clinching a spot before Martinsville. Elliott officially clinched his spot in the Championship 4 after his second stage win Sunday at Martinsville. Hamlin’s 24th-place finish and Truex’s fourth-place finish on Sunday made it a Hendrick Motorsports-vs.-Joe Gibbs Racing final.


Kyle Busch (minus-3), Brad Keselowski (minus-8), Ryan Blaney (minus-20) and Joey Logano (minus-42) were eliminated from championship contention after Sunday’s race at Martinsville. Tough day for Team Penske as all three of their drivers failed to make it to the Championship 4. Meanwhile, Busch could not catch up to Bowman and will miss the Championship 4 for the second straight year. Keselowski will miss out on a final title chance with Team Penske as he transitions to Roush Fenway Racing as a driver-owner next year. Blaney has yet to make it to a Championship 4, despite 2021 being arguably his best season as a Cup driver. Logano continues his pattern of making the Championship 4 in even, not odd years.


Kyle Larson
Starts: 14
Best finish: Second (spring of 2017)
Top fives: 5
Top 10s: 8
Average start: 7.3
Average finish: 11.6
Laps led: 72
DNFs: One (engine: fall of 2017)

Chase Elliott
Starts: 11
Best finish: First (fall of 2020)
Top fives: 4
Top 10s: 7
Average start: 4.7
Average finish: 11.2
Laps led: 402
DNFs: One (crash: fall of 2019)

Denny Hamlin
Starts: 32
Best finish: First (twice, most recently in fall of 2019)
Top fives: 15
Top 10s: 19
Average start: 9.8
Average finish: 10.8
Laps led: 854
DNFs: One (crash: fall of 2017)

Martin Truex Jr.
Starts: 31
Best finish: First (spring of 2021)
Top fives: 5
Top 10s: 13
Average start: 11.9
Average finish: 15.4
Laps led: 187
DNFs: Four (crash: spring of 2020; crash: fall of 2016; engine: fall of 2012; overheating: fall of 2008)