Three of the Top 10 Most Memorable Moments in NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs History Happened at Martinsville Speedway
Take drive down memory lane as we count down 10 of the most memorable moments in NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs history since the new Playoffs format debuted in 2004, including three moments at Martinsville Speedway (2017, 2018, 2020)
2004: Less than 100 laps into the Championship race (then at Homestead-Miami Speedway) Kurt Busch watched as his championship dreams potentially rolled away when he lost a wheel on pit road. In an amazing feat, Busch was able to stay on the lead lap, and finish above Jimmie Johnson (second) and Jeff Gordon (third) in points to arrive at his first NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
2011: "He better be worried. He's not going to sleep for the next three weeks," Tony Stewart proclaimed, as his season long battle with Carl Edwards was just three races away from the championship finale. In epic fashion, the last race of the season produced an alternating cat and mouse chase between the two drivers until 'Smoke' took the lead one final time and never looked back. The win was the tiebreaker in determining Stewart as the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
2012: The unforgettable image of Clint Bowyer's sprint through the garage to confront Jeff Gordon after an on-track incident at Phoenix Raceway will forever be engrained in our memory. With two laps remaining, Bowyer's hopes of making it to the Championship 4 were crushed when Gordon clipped his car, as tensions from several recent on-track incidents boiled over.
2014: A bold move by Brad Keselowski to pass Jeff Gordon in the final laps of the race at Texas Motor Speedway brought him to a third place finish, but left Gordon in the dust with a 29th-place finish. Needless to say, Gordon was less than pleased with Keselowski, and the two drivers (and their teams) confronted each other on pit road after the race.
2014: With the threat of elimination looming during the penultimate race of the Playoffs (then Phoenix), Kevin Harvick dominated the race and secured his position in the Championship 4, then went on to win the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his sole championship title to date.
2015: Kyle Busch came in hot with the comeback of the century after sitting out for the first 11 weeks of the season due to a broken leg and foot from a wreck in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Back on track in May, Busch collected four wins in the regular season, coasted through the Playoffs, and into Victory Lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway (then championship race) to claim his first of now two NASCAR Cup Series Championship titles.
2016: Only three drivers in NASCAR Cup Series history have ever won seven Championships; Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. held the esteemed record until Jimmie Johnson joined them in 2016. No driver since has won more national series championships than these three legends of our sport.
2017: With less than five laps left in the race at Martinsville Speedway, Denny Hamlin bumped Chase Elliott out of race winning contention. Tensions were high, as the two came face-to-face after the race on pit road for a heated conversation.
2018: Martin Truex Jr. challenged Joey Logano when he made a late-race pass for the lead at Martinsville Speedway; but on the final turn of the last lap, Logano laid it all on the line and made contact with Truex to take back the lead and win the race. The victory secured him a spot in the Championship 4. Logano found himself head to head with Truex yet again in the final race of the season, as he finally passed Truex with 12 laps remaining, and claimed his first NASCAR Cup Series Championship title.
2020: Chase Elliott's No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team nearly collected a penalty that could have cost him the race at Martinsville Speedway on Lap 353 when his jackman, T.J. Semke , went over the wall too early. Once he realized his error, Semke quickly reset his position behind the wall for a do-over, and NASCAR did not post the penalty, per the rulebook. Elliott went on to win the race and capture his first NASCAR Cup Series Championship title the following weekend at Phoenix Raceway.
NASCAR playoff weekend at Martinsville Speedway is October 30th & 31st. Get your tickets while they are available at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.