NASCAR at Martinsville live updates: Cup race tonight

The field takes a parade lap before start of the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Martinsville Speedway on Friday April 8, 2022, in Martinsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

AP

NASCAR’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 is delayed for wet weather at Martinsville Speedway. TV coverage is on FS1. Radio coverage is on MRN and SiriusXM.

The race at the Virginia half-mile paperclip is 400 laps (210 miles) with stages ending on laps 80, 180 and 400.

Below are the latest race updates from the track.

Pre-race

Wet track before night race

8:20 p.m.: Engines are FIRED. There’s a 46 percent chance of rain at 9 p.m. and it’s still very cold at around 42 degrees, according to AccuWeather.com, but looks like we’re getting this races started.

8 p.m.: Drivers are told to be at their cars by 8:15 p.m. with the command to start engines coming up at 8:20. This race is getting started soon. The estimated time of the race is about three hours, so get ready for a late finish.

7:44 p.m.: Pre-race ceremonies are complete. Track drying is still ongoing, but it’s looking like it’s drying fairly quickly. Hopefully a short delay.

7:35 p.m.: Jet dryers have joined the Air Titans on the track. The rain has largely stopped. Snow isn’t accumulating, so now it’s just about getting the track dry without more moisture being added. This will certainly be a night race. No timeline has been provided with an updated start time. No cars are dropping to the rear once the race gets underway.

7:24 p.m.: The Air Titans have been deployed and the menacing gray clouds look like they’re moving through to the east.

7:18 p.m.: Reports of … snow. Very light flurries, but still, snow.

7:10 p.m.: There’s still steady rain coming down and the track is fairly saturated. This will inevitably take some time to dry, even with the wind. The low temperatures aren’t helping either, as its hovering around 45 degrees and dropping. An on-time start is unlikely, and now it’s a question of when the rain will pass and how quickly NASCAR can dry the track. Last night, there was lighter rain at the start of the Xfinity race and it took just 20 minutes to dry, put it wasn’t as steady. Stay tuned.

6:50 p.m.: With pockets of light and steady rain at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR’s track drying team has been deployed. Drying efforts haven’t started 40 minutes before the 7:30 race start (green flag at 7:58 p.m.), but there are six dryers lined up in Turn 2 ready for the command. According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance of showers in the area before 10 p.m. with a 20% chance of precipitation. Other forecasts indicate a zero percent chance of rain after 8 p.m. so NASCAR is hoping it’s a passing shower.

If you’re looking for pre-race coverage on FS1, you’ll find the Yankees and Red Sox are in the ninth inning. Pre-race coverage has moved to FS2, FOX Business Network and the FOX Sports App. Coverage will move to FS1 after the game.

Elliott on the pole, expecting same contact-heavy Martinsville

Chase Elliott will start on the pole for tonight’s race after qualifying with the best speed on Friday. Aric Almirola will start in the front row.

There was plenty of contact during last night’s Xfinity Series race and Elliott said that “maybe in the right circumstance” it could get more aggressive tonight, given the durability of the Next Gen cars.

“The bumpers certainly are not as fragile as they used to be,” Elliott said. “The quarter panels don’t seem to cause tire rubs as easily as they used to. Some of the components, toe links and things of that nature, are pretty fragile, so I do think you can break some of the suspension.”

But as it pertains to bumping a competitor out of the way?

“You are at less risk of hurting your car in the process,” Elliott said. “I feel like when it comes down to it, sure, guys are gonna get aggressive, but we all got aggressive before, too, so I don’t think it’ll look a lot different.”

Allmendinger, Kaulig starting at the back

A.J. Allmendinger is starting last in the No. 16 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing. His car failed pre-race inspection three times, meaning that a crew member is ejected for the race. That will be team engineer Michael Brooks. The car was not permitted to qualify and Allmendinger will have to serve a pass-through penalty after taking the green flag.

Different winner streak?

There have been seven different winners in the first seven races of the season (Austin Cindric, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe, William Byron, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin). If there’s a different winner tonight, the 2022 season will become the third season in NASCAR’s Cup Series Modern Era (1972-present) to start with eight different winners in the first eight races. The 2003 and 2000 season were the other two.

Martin Truex Jr. snapped the different winners streak last year when he won the eighth race of 2021 at Martinsville.

The Modern era record for the most different Cup winners in a single season was 19 different winners in 2001. There have also been 18 different winners in a single season twice, in 2002 and 2011. There were 16 different winners last season.

Kyle Busch’s 500th Toyota race

Kyle Busch tonight will become the second driver to make 500 Cup starts in a Toyota Camry. He joins Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin on that list. He’s earned 55 of his 59 Cup wins in a Camry. Busch began driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota in the Cup Series in 2008.

NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville starting order

Order Driver Car No.
1 Chase Elliott 9
2 Aric Almirola 10
3 Cole Custer 41
4 Chris Buescher 17
5 William Byron 24
6 Kevin Harvick 4
7 Christopher Bell 20
8 Kyle Larson 5
9 Brad Keselowski 6
10 Todd Gilliland 38
11 Kyle Busch 18
12 Ryan Blaney 12
13 Austin Cindric 2
14 Joey Logano 22
15 Alex Bowman 48
16 Michael McDowell 34
17 Justin Haley 31
18 Kurt Busch 45
19 Chase Briscoe 14
20 Martin Truex Jr. 19
21 Bubba Wallace 23
22 Tyler Reddick 8
23 Austin Dillon 3
24 Erik Jones 43
25 Denny Hamlin 11
26 Corey LaJoie 7
27 Ross Chastain 1
28 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47
29 Harrison Burton 21
30 Daniel Suárez 99
31 Josh Bilicki 77
32 JJ Yeley 15
33 BJ McLeod 78
34 Ty Dillon 42
35 Cody Ware 51
36 AJ Allmendinger 16

This story was originally published April 9, 2022 6:30 PM.

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NASCAR and Charlotte FC beat reporter Alex Andrejev joined The Observer in January 2020 following an internship at The Washington Post. She is a two-time APSE award winner for her NASCAR beat coverage and National Motorsports Press Association award winner. She is the host of McClatchy’s podcast “Payback” about women’s soccer.
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