What a cutoff race!! NASCAR scheduling Martinsville as the cutoff race for the Round of 8 was genius. The race had drama, comers and goers, an incredible points battle, and exactly why NASCAR created this playoff format. NASCAR truly had a once in a season type of race.
Stage One was won by Denny Hamlin, but it was clear that early on the race seemed to be between Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Chase Elliott. Early on there was some strategy, and it was apparent a few guys were points racing based on late stage strategy. It would prove its value later on, but Denny Hamlin winning this stage would be all the difference between advancing to Phoenix, and not.
Stage Two showed that Elliott, and Truex were a little bit ahead of Hamlin, but concern started to set in for championship favorite Kevin Harvick. He had been running outside the top 10 all day, and looked largely irrelevant. If Chase Elliott, or Martin Truex were to win the race it would be a battle to advance between Harvick, Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski.
Stage Three was the Chase Elliott show. Chase seemingly dominated the stage, and even overcame multiple bad pit stops, and once it was established Chase was likely going to win our focus turned to the battle to advance between Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick. It got as tight as one point between the three drivers. On the last lap of the race Harvick was one point out, and attempted to wreck Kyle Busch to get the point to advance, but he wrecked himself in the process.
Chase Elliott's win advanced him to the Championship Four. The final four are Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano, and they will be racing this Sunday for the Bill France Cup at Phoenix Raceway.