MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Ryan Blaney and his No. 12 team won for the second time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway, transferring to next Sunday's Championship 4 Race in Phoenix.
The Team Penske driver entered the race 10 points above the cutline and needed a good day. After picking up a total of 59 points, a runner-up finish in Stage 1 and a win in Stage 2, Blaney could have made the Championship 4 on points. However, he ended up winning the race and automatically advanced.
"I’ve been wanting to win here for a long time," Blaney said. "We’ve been super close for many years and awesome to close it out. I thought we put together a really strong playoffs, especially the Round of 8. We had a good Round of 8, so just really proud of the whole effort. I can’t wait to get to Phoenix next week.”
Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota needed to win to advance to the Championship 4. Unfortunately for Hamlin, he finished third and missed the Championship 4 for the second straight season.
"The mechanical failure last week with the power steering, that sealed our fate," Hamlin said. "I’m really proud of this whole FedEx Toyota team for showing up today when we really needed to, having probably a mid-50-point day. They did great, they did absolutely great. The 12 car was the best car today, so congrats to them.
"Hate we're not in it with our FedEx Camry. Definitely, I was happy with the performance we had today. Really all around. Just in the Round of 8 you can't have one bad week."
William Byron will join Round of 8 winners Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Blaney in the Championship 4.
Results from the 2023 Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway are listed below.
Other Race Facts
2023 Regular Season Champion Martin Truex Jr. failed to make the Championship 4 once again. Truex Jr.'s postseason has been below-average compared to his regular season and enters Phoenix 12th in the standings.
"Man, I think it just shows how tough this sport is," Truex Jr. said. "Anybody that races here and guys that have raced here that do the broadcasts, they'll tell you. It's this close, man. You find this little bit, and suddenly you look like a hero. Some other guys find some stuff, suddenly you're not.
"We've been fast at times, but execution hasn't been solid, hasn't been consistent. We've had some bad luck. We've had a little bit of everything. Like I said, some years it feels like it's your year, some years it feels like it's not. I just feel we couldn't do anything right."
Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher were also eliminated from championship contention after Martinsville.
Aric Almirola had his best race all season long after recently announcing that he will not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series next year. The No. 10 Smithfield Ford finished second and led 66 laps.
"Honestly, I’m just sad," Almirola said. "We had a good car. We just fought track position. Qualifying kind of set us behind and then when we finally cycled to the front and got track position we had a great race car.
"Man, I was being so patient and taking care of my tires. I wasn’t slipping a tire. I wasn’t doing anything to hurt my tires and they just started to give up on me there towards the end, and the 12, his car would hold on a little longer."
The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 2.
Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their seeding during Week 30 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.
Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen officially clinched the 2023 GRID Ranking World Championship. Verstappen is the seventh different winner and the first to lead the GRID Ranking for the entire season.
MOST RECENT FINISH
Week 31 of the GRID Ranking:
William Byron already clinched NASCAR's GRID Rating last week at Homestead. Regular Season Champion Martin Truex Jr. has fallen out of the GRID Ranking, following a collapse in performance throughout the 2023 postseason.
The NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 Race will take place at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 5. Coverage will begin on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.
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